Château Lafite CEO sees ‘positive’ side of climate change

As the debate over global warming – and the introduction of new varieties – intensifies across Bordeaux, Chateau Lafite’s President and CEO Jean-Guillaume Prats remains optimistic about the region’s future.

“I actually feel quite positive about climate change – the quality of wine in Bordeaux has never been better, and this is due to improving weather conditions and rising temperatures,” said Prats.

“People used to harvest in raincoats – now they need t-shirts and sun hats. The last 15 years have seen several extraordinary vintages, so in that sense, global warming has been very positive,” he added.

The region is currently basking in a heatwave – a timely occurrence as the producer syndicate authorized seven new wine grapes for Bordeaux AOC and Bordeaux Supérieur wines this week. Reportedly, growers have been experimenting with new varieties across Bordeaux’s appellations for several years, responding to a changing climate and unprecedented hot vintages such as 2003.

Although the French national oversight body, INAO, has yet to approve the changes, growers marketing wines under the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellation could potentially plant up to 5 percent of their vineyards with the new grapes.

The seven newly approved Bordeaux grapes include Portugal’s Touriga Nacional and Alvarinho, Marselan and Petit Manseng.

If the changes are approved by the INAO, growers will be permitted to add up to 10 percent of the new varieties into their final blend.

In addition, Matthieu Bordes, Directeur Général at Chateau Lagrange, has suggested that Rhone varieties may one day have a future in the Medoc.

“I am sure that there will be less and less Merlot and more Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot in the Medoc blends, which is always much better for the wine,” said Bordes.

“Regarding future varieties, due to our gravelly soil we could think about Shiraz or Grenache.”

When questioned about global warming, Bordes echoed the sentiments of Prats, arguing that it had been positive for the region.

“Lagrange has not been adversely affected by global warming. Honestly, we have benefited from it since 2007 by including more and more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend,” commented Bordes.

He added: “Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, the principal effect of rising temperatures across the left bank is Cabernet Sauvignon reaching good maturity every year. Also, our terroir responds very well to hot and dry vintages – the 2018 vintage at Lagrange has a pH of 3.53.”

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