Grape expectations

Climate change is already transforming the wine industry

2:50pm, January 24, 2014
grapes in Xinjiang, China

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS  As famed regions such as Napa and Bordeaux become too warm, wine producers will have to find new places to grow grapes, such as in China’s Xinjiang region (shown).

Antonio Busalacchi knows quality wine. As a sommelier, his educated palate can discern the oak undertones or mineral accents of a wine — flavors that elude most wine drinkers. He picks up on other nuances too. One sip of deep, inky purple, and he can distinguish the jammy, syrup-ripe fruit flavor of a shiraz grown in a warm climate from the lean olive notes of a syrah, made from the same grape, grown in a cooler region of France.

In his day job, Busalacchi offers another take on his favorite wines. A climatologist at the University of Maryland, he recognizes that he soon may be praising the merits of a fine English — not French —sparkling wine, or discussing the complexity of a world-class Tasmanian cabernet sauvignon.

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