Better bubbly from ... England?


The chalky soil that makes France's Champagne region ideal for grapes also extends across the Channel to England. A warming climate has English vintners encouraged, but considerable challenges remain. Photo © Faun Kime.

May 8, 2014

Famous logoEngland has always had the same chalky soils that made France's Champagne region so lovely for grapes. The only thing missing? France's balmy climate. But that's changing.

Part 2: Champagne casts a wary eye at England

Produced in collaboration with PRI's The World. See their report here.

By Faun Kime
The Daily Climate

Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series looking at how climate change affects the rich and famous. We realize, of course, that billions of people are getting hit - hard - by climate impacts. Many of these are those least able to afford it. The wealthy are not immune either. It's time to see how climate hits Rodeo Drive. Or St. Moritz. Or Champagne. Reporting was done in collaboration with Public Radio International's The World.

SOUTH DOWNS, England – An age-old cross-channel rivalry between the English and the French has heated up.

This time, it's in a battle to produce the world's best sparkling wine - and England appears to be getting some help from our greenhouse gas emissions.

Forty years ago, southern England "could never have envisioned growing Pinot Noir or Chardonnay grapes successfully," said wine consultant and author Stephen Skelton. 

But in 2010, South Downs winery Ridgeview Wines won the coveted Decanter World Wine Award for best sparkling wine. The contest is notable for being one of the only international competitions pitting Champagne against sparkling wines.

Climate giveth, climate taketh

There is, of course, a cloud behind this silver lining. What climate change giveth in warming, it also taketh away, in many other ways, as vintners are finding: Summer never really arrived in 2012 in England, and the vintage is a disaster for England's wineries.

Chaulk-500I spent two weeks in the wine country of both southern England and Champagne, France, as part of a global reporting effort looking at how climate change will impact the trade of luxury goods and services.

Part I, "English sparkling wine, the new belle of the ball," explores changes underway in England. Part II, "Champagne eyes England," looks at efforts French growers are undertaking to  to breed and graft grape varieties to endure hotter temperatures. 

Faun Kime is a California-based filmmaker and journalist. The report was done in collaboration with PRI's The World and The Daily Climate, an independent news service covering energy, the environment and climate change. 

Find us on Twitter @TheDailyClimate or email editor Douglas Fischer at dfischer [at]

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