Vol 3 No 12…there is no global warming, got it? …and no climate change…sheesh!

Pardon, TB’s tongue-in-cheek slug for this blog, but he has had it with the naysayers. This was prompted by Hurricane Harvey but it goes deeper than that…much deeper.

First, the scientists who noted the rapid rise (not to the naked eye) in global temperatures, saw a problem: never in recorded history had the temperatures risen that rapidly and 2016 was the hottest year ever – globally! Then came the naysayers…mainly pseudo-scientists and as my good friend who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

Years ago I asked him about climate change and he said that the only scientists that didn’t believe it was occurring were shills for the energy industry…the same ones who said smoking wasn’t bad for your health. I believe we wouldn’t have so many who disagree if it hadn’t been Al Gore who created the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

So TB is always asking winemakers if it is occurring and not one…zero, zip, zilch…has refuted it. Now remember, these guys, like all farmers, keep records of daily temperatures, highs, lows, frosts, freezes, heat waves, rain…you name it…so when they say it is happening…trust me, it’s happening!

Now let’s go back to Katrina: made landfall August 29th, 2005 in New Orleans…almost exactly twelve years ago. Scientists noting the ice melting at the poles (note the recent break-off in Antarctica that is bigger than Manhattan!), predicted that rising sea temperatures…remember we began losing the ozone layer decades ago and that protected the earth from high temperatures…that rising water temp in the Caribbean would create more intense hurricanes…of course they were scoffed at by people like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump and joined by the conservatives of today who make the Reagan Republicans look like liberals. (Interesting that after Katrina the evangelicals were saying it was because God had brought this on them due to their morals…have you heard a single comment like this about Harvey? Perhaps God’s aim was a wee bit off…or was he punishing the big oil companies headquartered in Houston?…just askin’…)

In 2016, we were on a trip to Spain and Portugal followed by a wine cruise of southern and eastern Spain. I wanted to go to Madeira (which I highly recommend…an incredibly beautiful island), so while we were in Lisbon we took a day trip there. On the plane, out of boredom I was thumbing my way through EasyJet’s Traveller, inflight magazine (April 2016) and ran across this article: Can Bordeaux Survive the 21st Century? Obviously it caught my eye: “Last summer (2015) ,was the second hottest on record in France. If temperatures continue to rise, the nation’s most famous wine-producing region could be in serious trouble.” Aha, you say…Al Gore again…’fraid not, skeptics. The story was an interview with Arnaud Lasisz, assistant winemaker at Château Pape Clement, which dates back to 1252 and is a grands cru Bordeaux. The blend there is 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. 60% of the left bank vines – all of the original 1855 classification chateaus are located here – are Merlot…a grape that cannot tolerate intense heat.

“Within 20 or 30 years, Merlot will ripen in August (as opposed to late September or early October,” according to Dr. Kees van Leeuvwen, of the National School for Agricultural Sciences in Utrecht, “that will clearly compromise the quality of the wines, because they will lack freshness and have too much alcohol.”

So…what to do? In the nearby Médoc, they have planted 52 alternative varieties of vines to see how they cope with the higher temperatures. They are also abandoning tractors and replacing them with Breton plough horses at some of the chateaux in order to reduce the carbon footprint and within ten years will be biodynamic. Believe it or not, a three-quarter ton plough horse leaves less of a footprint than a tractor.

Now that TB has established the reason global warming is in this blog, let’s look at some of the effects and some of the bad players. First, Harvey occurred at a time where the sea temperature was six degrees above average – SIX! This is what scientists warned about and it is coming to pass. Some will argue that the 900 year drought in California followed by massive rains this year was just a fluke…or the increase in intensity and number of tornadoes…or the increases in flooding in low lying areas of the southeastern states. Let them…they are simply wrong. As stated earlier it is not in the interests of the petroleum companies to admit to global warming. Just this week a report was written that Exxon Mobil (you do recall the Exxon Valdez, right?), had been privately funding research while publicly denying climate change. Why? Because the cause of it is the rapid increase in man made carbon emissions from ….fossil fuels! In an act of Chutzpah, they took their denials to a new level: they challenged researchers to look at all their internal memorandums and the studies and see for themselves…bad move, because they were taken up on it and oh-oh…they lied…through their teeth for years. In May, the company agreed to activists to reconsider the effects of climate change on their assets…and a class-action lawsuit has been filed charging them with overvaluing their reserves in light of the problem. TB wonders if anyone told Rex Tillerson about this??? Naw…he knew nothing.

Looking around, sparkling wine grapes were harvested in early August in California, earliest on record, Burgundy had horrible hailstorms and weather, Italy has its worst drought on record and the smallest harvest in decades, Oregon and Washington are suffering from record high temperatures with effect on grapes uncertain.

Honk if you believe there is climate change, global warming, whatever you want to call it, and if you don’t, ask yourself this: what are you going to tell your grandchildren, when they ask why everything is dying?

It’s a great life if you don’t weaken…

TB

©2017, traderbillonwine.com

 

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Vol.2 No. 5…Bordeaux wine and wine in a box

Seems like an unlikely pair doesn’t it? Well, the connection is sketchy but the unthinkable is happening. Perhaps not so unthinkable when fraud abounds (in Padova, Italy, 9,000 bottles of fake Moet & Chandon champagne were uncovered in a shed where they were being produced…I kid you not!

In Vol. 2 No.1, TB wrote on some books he had been reading. One of them, Vino Business, by Isabella Saporta, showed just how greedy  Chateaux owners, thanks to the Chinese were among other things, forcing out smaller owners by changing regulations that were expensive to conform to…how about having a large parking lot??? But the main thing is the number of them that are owned by global conglomerates who will do anything to increase production especially now that they can bypass the chain and sell directly to the Chinese…who needs England and America…after all, they won’t pay the obscene prices for cru wines.

Not only that but they, who have claimed the exceptional ‘terroir’ of the Bordeaux appellations found a way to increase production by merely acquiring ‘adjacent’ properties – wait…isn’t that inferior wine? Not if you blend it…called assemblage. If the harvest is done in August or September, and the first tasting by the ‘eggspurts’ are in March (Parker is always the first and alone followed the next week by the rest of the critics. But wait: the wine is still in barrels awaiting the final blend. Parker loves his wines powerful…tannic, monster wines, while the Europeans prefer more balanced structured wines…a problem: simply take the samples from new barrels for Parker and the more mellow wines from used or neutral barrels…problem solved! Whatever it takes to get a 90+ score! Now do you see why TB says, never buy a wine on rating…especially a Bordeaux!

The above is simply a matter of preference. What is more significant is that not only are they forcing their less affluent owners out…by placing their men in charge of the INAO and the appellations, they are maximizing by over-spraying of pesticides and herbicides which is done by helicopter or mindless men driving tractors to the very edge of the property. Despite complaints by residents it persists. A local lab examined bottles of wine from every classified cru and guess what? They ALL contained chemicals, including some on the banned list! …and you, dear consumer are paying for that in your wine. A trade-off of either health benefits or health hazards, but in Bordeaux you can have both! Note that also, as mentioned in Saporta’s book, this extends to Champagne…quel horror! Pesticide Black List

Now, in closing, the mundane: we have all heard how great ‘wine in a box’ is  and how it saves money (bottles and shipping), resulting in lower prices to the consumer. Sadly, there is no way of knowing if you are actually saving money or getting lesser quality mass-produced wine. But that is a small point when you figure if you open a bottle of wine, even with a Vac-u-Vin, it keeps for two days at most. But next time you buy it notice the expiration date…yes, an expiration date on wine! Be sure to buy well ahead of it and due to the plastic liners which ‘could’ contain BPA or other chemicals that could contaminate the wine. So IF you choose to buy wine in a box, make sure you are well within the expiration date (and if the retailer is putting the expiring stuff to the front buy elsewhere, and remember that BIG box which is cheaper per liter may not be the best value since you can’t drink it all within a week…unless you are with friends…and do you really want to serve them box wine? Note this is not an issue of oxidation as the bag creates a vacuum, just a health safety issue…possibly. Not trying to create a scare like the one on arsenic levels in wine, just make you aware.

TB

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