Monday, July 9, 2007

Global Warming Investments

Based on a tip from the WSJ's Energy Roundup, I have been looking into (very) alternative investments, to best position (horizontal) CI's loyal and long-suffering readers.

The tip was a link to this story: Drought a drain in wine country

The investment? Wine futures.
From the November 8, 2006 AvenueVine:

Like Chamberlain, McClellan is particularly encouraged by Syrah. "It's going to be fantastic," he said. "Those grapes love the heat, and our July and August temperatures led to some wonderful, strong Syrah varietal characters. These are really aromatic wines in the fermenters."

From Australia's CSIRO:

Wine quality in a changing climate: The effect of heat stress on grape composition

From INRA:

A heat wave year vintage gives atypical wines

Thanks to research efforts in this field, it is now possible to better evaluate the potentialities of the grape berry: sugar content to be transformed into alcohol, tartaric and malic acid contents, aroma and aroma precursor content, polyphenol content and extractability.

According to the vintage and the grape harvest date chosen, these criteria have not all reached their qualitative optimum and will not express in the same way during the wine-making process.

The vintage from a heat wave year is ...atypical. Assessing its quality requires to take some distance. Wine is not an industrial beverage. It is the experience for instance, which made it possible to determine that 1976, a warm and drought year which many of us remember, met the conditions required to produce a high-quality champagne.

In 2003, vine plots known to produce late polyphenol maturing grapes have yielded much more rich and coloured wines (if the vine had not suffered from an excessive heat stress - beyond a certain threshold - which can be characterized now).

On the other hand, vine plots known to produce very early maturing grapes have been still more precocious (if the vine had not been subjected to an excessive water stress) and the oenologists have had to give greater place to the acidity potential.

In vineyards of red wine production, the oenologists who gave priority to polyphenol maturity and did not hasten too much to harvest the grapes have taken the sound decision.
Mediterranean vine stocks (Carignan, for example) have been little affected by the heat wave.

From Berry Bros. & Rudd on Volnay '97:

August was extraordinarily hot with many grapes suffering from heat stress. Storms in early September brought welcome relief to the shrivelled grapes. The remainder of the month was predominantly dry and the grapes were harvested with high sugar levels and thick skins.

The wines are charming, succulent and fruit driven. They possess lower acidity and less grip than the 96s, and will generally be ready to drink prior to the 95s and 96s. Many are drinking well now. Some exceptional wines at the higher end of the quality scale have the structure and weight to ensure their longevity and will amply repay extended cellaring.