Interview

"We are already producing Champagne in a climate that's different from our fathers'" - just-drinks speaks to the Comite Champagne

Most popular

What rum needs to do to recognise its potential

Can alcohol slow the onset of dementia? - analysis

A-B InBev's Craft Brew Alliance purchase - Comment

Why single malt should ignore its core consumer

Technology bringing tasting events closer to home

MORE

The Champagne industry prides itself on being at the forefront of the climate change battle, producing in 2001 wine's first report on the effects a warming planet will have on growing and production. This week, Champagne's overseer, the Comité Champagne (CIVC), released its latest sustainability report, revealing that climate change is no longer a prospect on the horizon but is already having an effect on how Champagne is made. Earlier this week, just-drinks sat down with CIVC director of communications Thibaut Le Mailloux to talk about the threat of climate change and what needs to be done to protect Champagne.

CIVCs director of communications, Thibaut Le Mailloux

CIVC's director of communications, Thibaut Le Mailloux

just-drinks: We've been talking about the coming climate change for a while, but it seems those weather patterns have now come. Is that a fair assessment? And, does the new report back that up? 

Thibaut Le Mailloux: Definitely, yes. Over the past 30 years, there has been a 1.1 degree Celsius increase in the Champagne region. At the same time, rainfall levels haven't changed. But, we also have seen a decrease in the acidity of the wines. Acidity is key to producing great sparkling wines. These parameters show that we are already producing Champagne in a climate that's different from the one of our fathers. So, we are changing what we can change in order to adapt to the climate.

j-d: Is this changing the wine?

TLM: The ultimate goal is to keep the style of the wine. If we need to change some elements ... like the grape selection, then we're ready to change them because the challenge is to keep the distinctiveness of Champagne.

j-d: How concerning is this to the industry?

TLM: Changing some parameters of production has always been a tradition in Champagne. This time, it's more pressing, because the change is drastic. It's happening very fast. the challenge is to be able to still produce brilliant wine in ten, 20, 30, 50 years time. It's less about adapting to climate change - it means radical changes and innovations. 

Look at the maturation of the grapes, which is happening 18 days earlier than 30 years ago. Thirty years ago, the Champagne harvest was at the end of September, sometimes up to mid-October. Now, we aim for early September. It's an extreme change. Half a century ago, we used to say that the harvest comes 100 days after flowering. We are closer to 80 days than 100 now.

j-d: What does the report say about the future?

TLM: We are preparing for even higher temperatures, drier climates, maybe with more violent climatic events. This year, we lost 10%-to-11% of the potential harvest through sunburned grapes. We have broken the highest temperature ever recorded in Champagne - 42.9 degrees Celsius.

j-d: You've set sustainability targets for the Champagne industry to achieve. How do you make the growers and producers in Champagne comply with these targets?

TLM: The tactics that we use are basically peer-to-peer and by networks. We organise meetings in the villages and the members of these networks are teaching their neighbours, and then the neighbours are teaching their neighbours.

If one day we find solutions that really need to be implemented efficiently, then we will have to make the decision to change the production rules of Champagne and make them compulsory. We have set a goal to get rid of chemical herbicides in 2025. This means we might push to ban them from the set of production rules related to the appellation of Champagne.

The rules of the appellation for the region may change, but they've been changing a lot. They've changed over time, many times.

j-d: You're committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the production of Champagne. Can you make the people that work in the Champagne industry also reduce their carbon footprints?

TLM: We can't force them. Companies have their own freedom. We recommend, of course, and we already do our best to match agendas when travelling to wine fairs.

Comite Champagne mulls AOC change to ban herbicides - Click here to read


Expert Analysis

Brandy (Spirits) Market in China - Outlook to 2022: Market Size, Growth and Forecast Analytics

Brandy (Spirits) Market in China - Outlook to 2022: Market Size, Growth and Forecast Analytics

Brandy (Spirits) Market in China - Outlook to 2022: Market Size, Growth and Forecast Analytics is a broad level market review of Brandy market in China.

VIEW REPORT

Related Content

Comite Champagne mulls AOC change to ban herbicides - FREE TO READ

Comite Champagne mulls AOC change to ban herbicides - FREE TO READ...

"We need to look at the way Millennials experience wine drinking" - Interview, Comité Interprofessi...

"We can handle Brexit in our stride" - just-drinks talks to Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes...

Why drinks brands must move beyond comfortable consensus on climate change - Sustainability Spotlight

Why drinks brands must move beyond comfortable consensus on climate change - Sustainability Spotligh...

Oops! This article is copy protected.

Why can’t I copy the text on this page?

The ability to copy articles is specially reserved for people who are part of a group membership.

How do I become a group member?

To find out how you and your team can copy and share articles and save money as part of a group membership call Sean Clinton on
+44 (0)1527 573 736 or complete this form..



Forgot your password?