Entries tagged with “carbon dioxide”.


Climate Change is likely to lead to increased temperatures in the Western Cape wine regions by 2050, and can affect wine production, said Dr Wilmot James at a lecture he gave as part of the 2011 Darwin Seminars, which were jointly hosted by UCT’s Division of Human Genetics and the African Genome Educational Institute in November.  The lecture preceded the recent COP17 Climate Change Conference 2011 held in Durban.

An edited extract of the lecture appeared in the Cape Argus two weeks ago with the title ‘Will warming yield grapes of wrath?’. It stated that temperatures at the coast are estimated to increase by 1,5°C and by 2-3°C inland by 2050.  Dr James asked what effect these climate changes will have: “How will this affect viticulture? Vines are hardy and produce better fruit when made to struggle. But how much struggle can they take?” He writes that as a region gets hotter, there is less opportunity to make different styles and types of wine.  In the Winelands, there still is the opportunity to develop new vineyards in more temperate and cooler regions, to change viticultural and oenological practices, and to change wine styles, to counter the temperature rise.

According to research conducted by Dr Suzanne Carter, an environmental and geographical scientist at UCT, the following climate change trends can impact on wine production:

*  rainfall will reduce, yet Dr James writes that many farms do not use the full potential of irrigation on their farms.  However, the use of more water will lead to increased cost of production, and may not always be in sufficient supply in times of drought;

*   the length of time between rainy days has been growing over the past 50 years, which means that more rain evaporates than is retained in the soil;

*  heavy rains and floods are not ideal, as too much water is lost, and can ruin crops;

*   higher temperatures have led to better quality wines, but in certain hotter regions this benefit is lost if the grapes ripen too early;

*   a greater concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere creates larger fruit and yields, and improves the water efficiency in vines, but can lead to high sugar levels that can change the flavour and quality of the wines produced.

Dr James does not provide any solutions to the wine industry as to how to counter these effects of Climate Change on wine production.

Dr James was a co-author, with Professor Jakes Gerwel and Jeanne Viall, of the book Grape: Stories of the Vineyards of South Africa’, which focused on the history of the Winelands, highlighted the treatment of staff on some farms, and told stories of winemakers, their workers, exporters, and grape farmers.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

A most beautiful as well as informative coffee table book about South Africa’s sparkling wine industry has just been published.  ‘Celebrating Méthode Cap Classique’ has been written by Di Burger, and is the first complete bubbly book.

The book traces the history of champagne to South Africa’s sparkling wine industry, which innovated with Cap Classique forty years ago, being a bottle-fermented bubbly made in the traditional French style.  Kaapse Vonkel was made for the first time by pioneer winefarmer Frans Malan at Simonsig in 1971, while ‘Cap Classique’ wines were made for the first time in 1992.  Chairman of the Cap Classique Association, Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines, writes in the introduction to the book that ‘South Africa has the oldest grape growing soils in the world’.  Combined with its bountiful sunshine, the Western Cape is a perfect location for growing grapes of excellent quality for the production of Cap Classique. 

Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) is the term which describes the South African bottle-fermented production of sparkling wines in the French méthode Champenoise style.  They are dry, with less than 12 grams of sugar per litre.

The book includes profiles of the major sparkling wine producers (Simonsig, Boschendal, Graham Beck, JC le Roux, Pongrácz, Villiera, Haute Cabrière, The House of Krone, Laborie, Backsberg Estate, Avondale, Bon Courage Estate, Van Loveren, De Wetshof, High Constantia Wine Cellar, Steenberg Vineyards, La Motte, Morena MCC, Saronsberg, Colmant, Veenwouden Private Cellar,  Mooiplaas, Quoin Rock Winery, Chabivin, Klasiek by Catherine, Namaqua Wines, MC Square, Domaine des Dieux, Lourensford, Old Vines Wine Cellars, Neil Joubert, Teddy Hall, Welteverede Wine Estate, Charles Fox, Francois La Garde, Longridge, Silverthorn Wines, Genevieve, LovanE Boutique Wine Estate, Saltare Wines, Tanzanite Wines, Ros Gower Wines, Wonderfontein, Cederberg Private Cellar, Riebeek Cellars, Groot Constantia, Dieu Donné Vineyards, Roodezandt, Aurelia MCC, Bramon, Viljoensdrift Wines,  Sterhuis, Perdeberg Winery, Véraison MCC, and Allée Bleue Estate). 

The book describes four styles of making sparkling wines: the ‘impregnation method’ (injecting carbon dioxide into vats of still wine); the ‘tank method’ (second fermentation in tank instead of in the bottle); the ‘transfer method’ (second fermentation in bottles, the cloudy wine is sucked out of the bottle through a filter to remove the sediment); and ‘Méthode Cap Classique’ (second fermentation in the bottle, with a solution of sugar syrup, yeast and aged wine added to create carbon dioxide and alcohol in the bottle, aged on the lees for 18 months – 5 years).  In total, there are 90 sparkling wine producers in South Africa, of which 53 are featured in the book.  Grape cultivars used most often in the production of sparkling wines are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Beautiful photographs by Riehan Bakkes reflect the vineyards, cellars, and products of the wine estates producing sparkling wines. 

Woolworths’ Allan Mullins recommends serving a glass of bubbly at the start of a function, to ‘awaken the taste buds’.  Food and Cap Classique pairings for breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the book, and recipes by TASTE and Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly are featured, as are recipes from Simonsig’s Cuvée restaurant, The Salmon Bar, David Grier, and Terra Mare Restaurant.  Pairings with Lindt chocolate desserts, and cheese are also featured, as are cocktail recipes with sparkling wine, created by the Cape Grace Hotel.

‘Celebrating Méthode Cape Classique’,  Stacked Publications, www.stackedpublications.co.za. Tel (021) 685-2146.   R300. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage