Why do two 2007 Pinot Noirs from different areas taste so different? Many factors contribute to a wine, including terroir (the grape’s growing environment), clones (natural mutations of a grape), and wine-making techniques. Today, we’ll focus on the effects of grape growing climates on wine.
The grape growing climates of most wine regions are categorized as Mediterranean, Continental or Maritime:
|Characteristics||Long growing seasons with moderate to warm climates and little seasonal change||Marked seasonal temperature changes, with hot summers and cold winters||Close proximity to large bodies of water that moderate temperatures; “middle ground” between Mediterranean and Continental|
|Key Regions||Tuscany (Italy), Napa and Australia||Burgundy and Loire Valley (France), Piedmont (Italy) and Columbia Valley (WA)||Bordeaux (France), Willamette Valley (WA) and New Zealand|
Red Wine Comparison of Different Grape Growing Climates
If you compare a Pinot Noir from a Mediterranean climate with a Pinot Noir from a Continental climate, you are likely to find marked differences. (A Pinot Noir from a Maritime climate would likely fall somewhere between the two.)
|Pinot Noir/ Mediterranean||Pinot Noir/ Continental|
|Climate||Warmer climate||Cooler climate|
|Ripeness and sugar content||Grapes are more ripe and have more sugar||Grapes are less ripe and have less sugar|
|Alcohol level||Higher – due to more sugar being converted into more alcohol||Lower – due to less sugar being converted into less alcohol|
|Wine characteristics||Pyrazine, an organic compound which is more prevalent in under-ripened grapes, is gradually destroyed by sunlight as the grapes continue to ripen, resulting in very little herbaceousness||Pyrazine on the less fully ripened grapes results in herbaceousness and notes of green pepper and olives|
White Wine Comparison of Different Grape Growing Climates
If you compare a Chardonnay from a Mediterranean climate with a Chardonnay from a Continental climate, you are again likely to find marked differences. The climate, ripeness and sugar content, and alcohol level will follow the same differences as described above for Pinot Noir. Here are some additional white wine climate-focused differences to be aware of.
|Chardonnay/ Mediterranean||Chardonnay/ Continental|
|Acidity||Lower in acidity – less likelihood that your mouth will pucker||Higher in acidity – higher likelihood that your mouth will pucker|
|Color||Broad range of colors, from clear to straw to butter to golden||Often has a greenish tint|
Do You Have a Preference?
I would love to know if you have a preference for Mediterranean, Continental or Maritime climate wines. Also, what specifically do you like about your preference? Please share your thoughts here.