The heat is on

Winemakers have discovered an upside to global warming

There are advantages to global warming, and one of them is celebrated in this month's Wine Club - namely red Sancerre. Previously too cold to produce a reliable crop of reds, the south-facing slopes are now parcelled out between the well-known Sauvignon and the Pinot Noir, the latter taking on a delightful mineral resonance from the clean limestone soil, and producing a light, strawberry-flavoured wine that is a perfect accompaniment to both meat and fish. Two of these wines are on offer: a red from Henri Bourgeois, and a rosé from the Domaine Tissier - both of them finely crafted, full of character and with the inimitable cleanliness of Loire wines at their best.

The red is fresh and poetical, and quite unlike the wise and slow-maturing Pinot Noirs of Burgundy. It hosed away the aftermath of Christmas, leaving the tubes clean and sparkling, ready for the new year and the new ordeals for which a wino must prepare - for instance, celebrating New Year itself, which requires staying up into the early hours while pretending to be on good terms with people just as exhausted as oneself.

The Tissiers follow the philosophy of lutte raisonnée, which means resisting the modern world, but not throwing away all of its advantages. They work the land in traditional ways and eschew chemical treatments; but they also recognise that you can't build everything on ecological rectitude, when your crops depend on global warming. Their rosé is made by the saignée method, whereby 10 to 15 per cent of the free-run juice is run off after 24 hours' cool maceration. This maximises the red-grape flavours; and if ever there was a white wine with the fruity taste of red, and a red wine with the acidity of white, this is it. You can drink this exquisite rosé with anything - even, we discovered, with Paradise Lost, brilliantly read by Anton Lesser on Radio 3.

Muscadet seldom emerges from its shell, where it broods in cold-blooded sluggishness. However, when matured sur lie, so as to acquire a full yellow-green sheen and rounded flavour, it can make an attractive party wine, and the example on offer is as good as they get, with a firm mineral structure that speaks clearly and cleanly of the Loire.

No red Loire is more characteristic of the region than that of St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil: a firm, smooth and often highly polished product of the Cabernet Franc grape, which can, with bottle age, compete on equal terms with the wines of Bordeaux. Saint Nicholas may have been rebranded as the loathsome Santa Claus, but the saint commemorated on the Loire, and distilled in this wine, is the feisty original: the bishop who struck the heretic Arius at the Council of Nicaea, and who was briefly defrocked as a consequence. This example contains no trace of heresy, Arian or otherwise, and wears a saintly face above its velvety episcopal robes.

Roger Scruton is a philosopher and countryside campaigner as well as an author and broadcaster. Widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading right wing thinkers, his publications include the Meaning of Conservatism. He has also written on fox hunting.

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Obama: What the world expects...