Winemakers in France are planning to introduce a new hybrid grape to offset the effect global warming is having on the production of champagne.
Over the past 20 years, vineyards have moved harvest dates ahead by two weeks amid fears that rising temperatures will harm the luxury bubbly, which relies on cold temperatures during production.
In a bid to futureproof the industry, winemakers are researching how to create a new grape that can resist higher temperatures and mature more slowly.
It is hoped the hybrid of chardonnay, pinot noir, meunier and other grapes will also cut the risk of mildew and fungus.
Image: Hotter temperatures would mean more sugar and less acidity in Champagne’s grapes
Thibault le Mailloux, from the Committee of Champagne, told Sky News: “We are adapting practices for the climate change currently and we are also working on improving our own environmental footprint.
“But basically climate change doesn’t affect the style of champagne at the moment because we still can adapt, both by ploughing the ground, changing harvest dates.”
Thomas Jorez, who works for champagne house Philipponnat, says new methods will need to adapt to keep the sparkling wine’s distinct taste.
Hotter temperatures mean more sugar and less acidity in the grapes.
Image: Winemakers are also attempting to cut their carbon footprint
“We don’t really know what will happen in 20 years’ time,” Mr Jorez said. “We just know that we will adapt like our elders have done 30 years ago.
“Maybe we will proceed with less and less malolactic fermentation to keep a maximum freshness in our wines if warm years are more and more often.”
The hybrid grape is a long-term project and the research will take years to perfect.
It is not the only work being done to address climate change in the region – growers and producers are also attempting to cut their own carbon footprint and reduce their use of pesticides.
Cedric Mousse owns a champagne house which makes 60,000 bottles a year and is planting vines which will take decades to produce fruit in order to even out the harvest in the future.
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He said: “Today I know (about climate change), my parents 30 years ago didn’t know about it, but today I know, so my son can be really angry with me if I don’t make a good decision today.
“If we take the action today the next generation won’t see the difference if we are only one or two degrees (higher) from global warming.”