It might sound shocking to some, but I had no interest in learning about climate until studying wine. Astounding, right??
In short? Climate is everything (well, along with soil). Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Chardonnay and you’ll see what I mean.
The Chameleon Grape
Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world. It also grows well in a large variety of climates, which is part of why it’s so popular.
Put Chard in a cold climate and you get lots of citrus and green fruit. Omit oak treatment or lees contact and it’ll also pick up minerality (flint, chalk, gravel) from the soil it’s grown in. Great examples of cool climate Chardonnays include Chablis and, in my opinion, Ontario.
Put Chard in a warm or hot climate and things change a LOT. Citrus and green fruit give way to stone and tropical fruit. Peach, pineapple, melon and mango are all fair game in a warm weather Chardonnay. There also isn’t as much minerality but there does tend to be more oak treatment, I’m guessing because the wines aren’t as subtle and delicate and can take the stronger flavours that oak imparts. Oak would leave flavours like vanilla, coconut or banana in its wake, further adding to the difference between warm and cool climate Chardonnays.
And all that based on the climate. Makes you wonder how climate affects people…