Facing global warming, Alsatian vineyards are trying the Syrah . grape variety

Posted on Friday, August 12, 2022 at 08:22

Cultivation of a grape variety in Alsace, Syria, traditionally found in hotter regions, such as the Rhone Valley in France or Australia? This is the “challenge” that has been attempted by the wine farm in Rovach (Haut-Rhin), eager to find a viticulture solution for the greenhouse.

About twenty kilometers south of Colmar, Clos Saint Landelin stretches over an area of ​​28 hectares. Its vineyards produce Pinot Noir, Crimentes, Riesling or Georgstraminers, sheltered from the rain-laden westerly winds by the Ballons d’Alsace, two peaks in Vosges.

With rain similar to that in Montpellier, “it’s the driest place in Alsace,” explains Thomas Morey, 42, who has been running this family’s vineyard for a few years with his sister Veronique, in Biodynamics since 2013.

A dry climate is certainly nothing new, but it is exacerbated by global warming. Like many others, the area, already suffering from water shortages, hasn’t received a single drop of rain in weeks. Among the rows of vines, the ocher soil, which has dried up, rises to dust when you tread on it.

Thomas Moreh asks “If climate change continues in the same direction, what are we going to do” to adapt wine production and continue to make “wonderful wine”?

– ‘Experimentation’ –

This question was asked by his father, Rene Moret, himself over ten years ago when he noticed that “harvest dates were arriving earlier and earlier,” as the wine expert explains.

It was then necessary to find the right grape variety, capable of ripening “a little more slowly”, and tolerating heat as well as “cold winters” in Alsace.

Of course, Syrah ended up asserting itself: in France, this variety is found in the Rhone Valley, but it is also found in Switzerland, Italy, Greece, South Africa, Lebanon and even Australia, like Shiraz.

In 2010, six rows were planted on the estate, with the aim of studying their behavior on clay limestone soils.

An “experiment” as much as a “challenge” because many rows of vines had to be sacrificed and thus lose their production and the fruits of their sales, explains Thomas Morey.

Twelve years and six grapes later, the black grape variety makes an average of 300 bottles a year (or barely “0.3%” of the drug’s production), and is currently secret coffee, marketed primarily in a circle of regulars in Clos Saint explains Mr. Moret Landelin, under the name “Vin de France”, without reference to Alsace because Syrah is not considered an Alsatian grape.

“After ten years of testing,” we realize it’s a “pleasant to drink red” wine, with a “salty and mineral side,” which will keep “ten or twenty years without a problem,” assures the vineyard.

His sister Veronique Morey, 46, explains that he “immediately took care of our customers”, bartenders or private individuals, all curious “to taste the first dish he would see produced in Alsace”.

“There is demand,” which “encouraged us to switch” to “real café,” with “last winter” planting some sixty additional ares from Syrah, a total of just under 70 ares, continues the person who runs the commercial and administrative aspects of Clos Saint Landelin .

– ‘A story of patience’ –

She estimates that these new plants should give their first harvest “in five or six years”. “Growing grapes is always a matter of patience.”

At first, the initiative “surprised” the world of Alsatian wine, Thomas admitted, that Syria is not part of the seven Alsatian grape varieties (pinots noir, blanc and gris, riesling, muscat, sylvaner and gewurztraminer).

However, the profession is well aware of “climate change” and “everyone is looking for solutions,” continues Mr. Moret. Thus a “handful” of Alsatian winegrowers also followed suit to grow Syrah, without embarking on marketing for the time being, skipping Thomas and Veronique.

Does this mean that in the long run, Syrah is expected to become familiar in Alsace? It’s hard to move forward. But “if (climate) warming continues, if we go in the same direction as in recent years, then Syrah has her place in Alsace”, wants to believe Véronique.

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