A carafe of Jarrow ’82, please

The wines of Australia have long brought pleasure to the British palate, but their future is under threat. At the inaugural Sparkling Wine Symposium, held in Sussex recently, one speaker warned that producers of all varietals are “in denial about climate change”, and that those in the Antipodes will have to move their vineyards from the valley floors to the mountainsides within a few decades if they are to survive.

According to our columnist John Pilger, however, this is less a cause of dismay than it would have been in the days when his father toiled in the vineyards of the Hunter Valley. “Vapid factory wines,” he writes this week, have “seen off the delicious flavours and distinct variety of so much Australian red wine.” While those of us partial to a drop of Penfolds Shiraz Mourvèdre may mourn both pieces of news, there are reasons for cheer on the home front. For the global warming that may harm Australian viticulture is likely to benefit English wine-growers. While most are confined to the south and contend with poor summers, researchers at Imperial College, London, predict that by 2080 it will be hot enough for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to thrive in the north of England. If Jacob’s Creek is no more, a carafe of Jarrow ’82 is surely something to look forward to.

This article first appeared in the 20 April 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Who polices our police?