warm, warmer, wine in Finland

Wine-making is a privilege of latitude. This is, however, not a fixed frontier. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s getting a bit warmer most everywhere. Oh, happy days.

The ideal average temperature for grapes is normally 18-20 degrees. As it is, the Spanish vineyards are already in hot water. The grapes develop far too much sugar, which means alcohol overload – which means hasta la vista, quality wine, hello, production of raisin.
It’s affecting France as well. Traditionally, wines from Bordeaux used to be 12.5% alcohol. In 2004 they were, on average, 13.5-14%. Grape variety is changing [for example, merlot is not doing well in Bordeaux anymore], the best terroir is moving from valley to slope, and so on and on.

But in Scandinavia, where we say “JA“, the future looks rather interesting – particularly from the perspective of wine-making. The northernmost European vineyard is, as of the moment, L’esprit d’Edvard Munch, just outside Oslo. There are a few decent vineyards in the Southern half of Sweden, Blaxsta Vin, to name one.
Finland is experimenting. Karlsro GÃ¥rd on Ã…land will soon perform debut harvest, while Teiskon Viini in Tuusula was the first to actually make ‘real’ wine in this country. [Of course, Teiskon Viini doesn’t exactly sound like something you’d expect to find on the upper shelves at Alko…]

Now, should you be the lucky landowner of a good piece of the North, you’d choose well to go with an ‘early’ grape. Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, and 100 days of 18-20 degrees, yes please. [Hybrid grapes might work even better.]
Additionally, there is an absolutely splendid advantage to our location on top of the world – the summer days are 20-25% longer!
Aha: 100 days in Bordeaux is a mere 80 days in sweet Southern Finland. Not bad, eh?
It does not stop there. To get the best out of the grape, you need to stress it – in other words, large differences in temperature would come in handy. Well, hello, September in Scandinavia, with 20 degrees and sunshine during the day, 5 degrees at night. Not bad at all, no, most certainly not.

Hell, even when it freezes over, you needn’t cry – make Eiswein instead. This is turning into a fairly popular practice in Germany and Austria, where they leave the grapes hanging until about -8 in the winter, then pick and process them frozen. The end result is a rich, dark yellow, very sweet white wine excellent as aperitif or accompanying your dessert.

Global warming may not be fair. But neither is life. Central Valley in California will be too hot and dry in twenty years. Denmark, on the other hand, is predicted to have great wine-country potential. Hopefully, Finland will be next.
Don’t tell this to anyone, because it is a huge, massive, sensational secret [unless you read Helsingin Sanomat 28.2…] – but the chalky soil in Pargas is destined to become the ultimate terroir of Finland. I shall stalk the very familiar area this summer, looking for suitable plots of gold.

Oh, I’ll be beyond middle age by the time is ripe, but I can already feel the tannins shrivel my mouth in perfect pleasure.

Bienvenue au Château de Pyton!