ALISTAIR GIBSON: Climate change is a real threat to our wine harvests

Atlantique Sauvignon Blanc 75cl
Atlantique Sauvignon Blanc 75cl

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The last two weeks have seen wine producers in northern Europe battling against one of the biggest threats to wine production – frost.

In many ways it shows how noteworthy the English wine industry has become.

Tsantali Organic Cabernet Sauvignon

Tsantali Organic Cabernet Sauvignon

National press articles are running stories on Nyetimber, one of the UK’s largest producers, announcing that in certain vineyards they had suffered bud losses of up to 90 per cent.

Frost damage can seriously affect the size of a vintage and this is not great timing for English wine producers.

But it’s not just in the UK. Much of northern France has been affected as well with tales of woe from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley.

It does seem climate change is having a big impact on the wine industry in Europe, with warmer winters in many cases bringing on vines two or three weeks ahead of schedule, and then being hit by frosts and hail damage.

Fief Gu�rin Muscadet C�tes de Grandlieu Sur Lie

Fief Gu�rin Muscadet C�tes de Grandlieu Sur Lie

To the wine consumer this can only mean one thing – smaller harvests will lead to price rises. Burgundy has probably lost one to two years’ worth of volume over the past five years.

The Loire Valley in particular has been badly hit this year, so here are a couple of wines to remind you of the pleasures of this wonderful wine region.

Muscadet is a wine that seems to have fallen off many wine lists. This is a shame as this simple wine can bring much pleasure and it’s a fantastic match with seafood.

Fief Guérin, Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu Sur Lie 2015 (Waitrose £8.49 but on offer at £6.79 from May 17) shows just what can be done, and what you’ve been missing.

It has a very slight spritz, which is typical of muscadet, but only enhances its freshness.

There is tangy citrus fruit, in particular, grapefruit. And there’s lots of racy acidity but with enough body to stand up to some more serious fish dishes. This would also be lovely with a seafood platter.

Atlantic Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (Waitrose £7.99 but on offer at £5.99 currently) is from an area south of the Loire Valley and this is another wine all about freshness.

The label is perfect for all those yachtsmen out there.

The wine is crisp with green apples and a touch of gooseberry fruit, with a very clean, racy mouth feel.

It’s not overly complicated but it’s good value and would be very pleasant as the sun goes down on a warm summer’s evening.

Greece is probably a region you wouldn’t associate with either frosts or indeed quality red wine, so it’s always a pleasure to find a wine that changes your perceptions.

Tsantali Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Halkidiki (Waitrose £9.49 but on offer at £6.99 from May 17) is just such a wine.

There is blackberry fruit, some spice, dried herbs and earthy notes before nice supple tannins and a reasonable finish.

A bit rustic, but tasty, and would be lovely with some charred lamb.

n Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail alistair@hermitagecellars.co.uk.