If anyone wants an example of how global warming is upending Europe's viticultural map, they should look to Pinot Noir. Indeed, the grape is arguably the canary in the coal mine. Throughout most of the 20th century, producing ripe and succulent Pinot Noir in Northern Europe was a thankless achievement. German Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) was once derided as anemic dross, with only the bravest – and most optimistic – winemakers attempting to grow the temperamental variety on British soil.
Yet in 2018, warmer summer temperatures ripened Spätburgunder with relative ease in regions like Pfalz and Baden, producing structured and concentrated wines. It's a similar story in the expanding vineyards of southern England. Tasted blind, a glass of Gusbourne's 2018 Pinot Noir (the fruit is grown in Kent) is startlingly reminiscent of a Premier Cru Volnay. “I first saw the potential for making still wines in our specific micro-climate in 2010 – the results were really promising, so we kept going,” says Gusbourne's winemaker Charlie Holland.
Meanwhile, the Burgundians are increasingly exploring the potential of higher-altitude terroirs in the Cote d'Or. Maintaining freshness and acidity in a warming climate is the 21st century challenge facing all winegrowers across Europe. As a result, many of the great Pinot Noir terroirs of tomorrow are likely to be found in higher-altitude sites, and further from the equator. Investors should observe the following regions and countries with great interest. They are the new frontiers of cool-climate Pinot Noir.