The Boozy Biddies return from their impromptu hiatus with some updates from the wine world – the good, the bad, and the weird. Join them to learn about climate change, Legionnaires Disease, robots who can taste wine and more!



Wine Enthusiast, The Struggle to Fight Climate Change in Bordeaux

AP News, Drought Forces Earliest Harvest Ever in French Wine Country

Knowable Magazine, Climate Change is Altering the Chemistry of Wine

NIST, Nanomagnets Can Choose a Wine & Could Slake AI’s Thirst for Energy

Wine Searcher, Another Blow for Napa Wine Tourism

CNN, War Wine: Company Sells Wine Scorched by Russian Missiles

CNBC, Australia’s Leading Wine Authority to Close Office in China as Exports Plunge

CNN, How China is Devastating Australia’s Wine Industry

BBC, China Slaps Up to 200% Tariffs on Australian Wine

Study Notes for New in the Wine World:

*Please note some of these lines might be directly taken from sources noted above.

ARTICLE 4 – Climate Change is Altering the Chemistry of Wine

  • Heading back to the Glass Fire of 2020 which hurt wine country in CA
    • Wine Chemist Anita Oberholster was inundated with messages asking if they harvested their grapes would their wine be subjected to smoke taint
      • Because of all the samples it took 6 weeks or more to receive results which meant plenty of grapes (8%) were just left to rot
  • In cooler climates, warmer temperatures has been very beneficial for ripening berries but devastating in warmer climates
  • Wildfires, heat waves and other “climate driven calamities” have ruined harvests in Europe, North America, Australia, etc
  • Climate change takes its toll without directly destroying them
    • Wildfires and warmer temps can transform the flavor of wine
    • It will affect the sugar levels, acidity, and secondary compounds (anthocyanins which give grapes the red color and protect against UV rays; tannins – bitterness)
    • Terroir is what is a threat which will affect those flavors
    • Wildfires lead to ashtray taste: a retro nasal experience! The aroma arises into your sinuses once the wine is on your tongue  but only like 20-25 percent of people can taste it
  • Wine is getting boozier!
    • Sweeter berries due to more ripening mean more sugar levels mean yeast can eat more
    • While you might get drunk quicker – boozier wines tend to be spicier, have a burning taste, and mask subtle aromas especially important in old world wine countries like Bordeaux
  • Biggest threat is the unpredictability
  • So what can be done?
    • Radiation reducing rows – reorienterd rows to NE-SW so the sun doesn’t directly blaze down on them
    • Harvesting & Trimming
    • Trellising
    • Winery & Lab – How can we filter out things like smoke taint
    • Planting Resilient Vines

Shade Films – let in rays that promote growth and berry production while filtering out harmful spectra that would affect flavor compounds

ARTICLE 1 – Drought Forces Early Harvest in Bordeaux

  • Harvest generally happens in mid-September in Bordeaux but this year it’s starting in mid-August due to severe drought
  • Bordeaux has been doing it’s best to embrace climate change and here’s how:
    • Adding new varietals to the approved list (four new red varietals & two whites)
    • More woods, forests, and hedges are being introduced to break up the monotony of the vineyards
    • Soil is rebounding with use of less chemicals since it became to “sterile” with introduction of cereals, legumes, clovers, and other crops tohelp
    • Less interference with animals and insects
    • Addition of bees even to increase propagation (save the bees!)
    • Trying to increase carbon sinks to mitigate effects of climate change
  • On the other hand, the grapes are doing extremely well despite the lower yields but it also came with new innovations
    • Changes in growing techniques like pruning vines differently and sometimes watering even in places where irrigation is usually banned
      • More leaf coverage, less sun for instance
      • Usually old vines have deeper roots that allow to draw water from deeper underground but this year there was special authorization to water adult vines
  • Global warming, Positive?
    • Fabien Teitgen (technical director of Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte) says the grapes do have better ripeness and and balance but that’s for now
    • With even another degree of temperature added, the freshness and balance of the wine will disappear
    • This 2022 vintage may be better than ever
    • The hot, dry weather helped prevent vines from getting diseases such as mildew
  • Yields 15-20 percent lower in the broader region due to smaller grapes and sunburn
  • Calla’s take? At least a region known for being rigid is adapting. But yeah, climate change is super real.

ARTICLE 3 – Another Blow for Napa Wine Tourism

  • Spoiler alert: the blow is Legionnaire’s Disease, a form of pneumonia
  • Named after an outbreak in 1976 killed 29 people at the American Legion Convention in Philadelphia
  • Disease is not spread person-to-person but by bacteria-laden warm water
    • Traced the source back to a cooling tower in Napa by the Embassy Suites Hotel
    • Said that mist from the tower could have infected up to a 1-mile radius
  • Good news: can be treated successfully with antibiotics if caught early enough

ARTICLE 5 – Nanomagnets Can Choose a Wine, and Could Slake AI’s Thirst for Energy

  • When we taste wine, synapses in our neurons fire weighing out all the data – acidity, fruitiness, bitterness before passing it along to the next layer of neurons
    • As this continues, the brain can help associate what type of wine is is (even if its just red v white)
  • For some reasons, we want AI to do that too
    • Scientists design computer versions of neural networks to process and analyze information so AI is catching up but it takes a lot more energy for it to do what we can do
    • Our brains consume 20 watts of power and AI uses thousands of times that
  • Scientists at National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed a new type of hardware for Ai that could use less energy and operate more quickly
    • And it has already passed a virtual wine tasting test
  • AI needed to train its virtual palate
    • Team trained the network using 148 of the wines from a dataset of 178 made from three types of grapes
    • Each virtual wine had 13 characteristics to consider (ie alcohol level, color, flavonoids, ash, alkalinity and magnesium)
    • Each characteristic was assigned a value between 0 and 1 for the network to consider
    • Given a virtual wine tasting which included 30 wines it hadn’t seen before and it passed with 95.3% success rate (only 2 mistakes were made)
  • They SWEAR they aren’t trying to make an AI Sommelier but because this system requires so much less energy that it can use this new technology to drastically reduce energy in other systems

ARTICLE 2 – War Wine: Company Sells Wine Scorched by Russian Missiles

  • A Russian missile hit a warehouse run by Ukranian wine seller ‘Good Wine’ in the early days of the war
    • The warehouse housed a collection of wine 10 years in the making, including many notable bottles
  • Co-founder of Good Wine, Volodymyr Shapovalov, and his crew are salvaging the bottles that they can for sale
    • Use the indicator of the cork not having moved for quality of the wine – thought being that the wine would not have heated up enough
    • Clean up the bottles for sale
    • Wine is sold on a special shelf demarcated for wines from the blast
  • Even with selling what they’re able to save, warehouse is estimated to have lost $15M in wine in the blast
  • A portion from the proceeds are going to the Ukrainian armed forces

ARTICLE 6 – Australia’s Leading Wine Authority to Close Office in China as Exports Plunge

  • The once 1.2 billion Australian dollar-a-year trade ($830 million) has whittled down to just over AU$200 million at the end of March, an alleged casualty of the tension between the two countries.
    • Chinese trade for Australian exporters however suffered a blow in 2020 when Beijing launched an investigation into allegations of dumping cheap Australian wine in China.
      • Officials in China have argued that some Australian wine is being sold cheaper there (dumped) than in its home market through the use of subsidies. Australia has rejected that assertion.
      • China has been carrying out a year-long investigation into anti-dumping, looking at wines being sold in China at prices alleged to be lower than in Australia.
    • Beijing subsequently imposed anti-dumping duties of between 116.2% and 218.4%, rendering Australian wines uncompetitive in the Chinese market. The matter is being arbitrated at the World Trade Organization.
    • The punitive tariffs were among a series of Chinese trade restrictions on Australian exports including barley, coal and lobsters.
  • Many of these restrictions were informally enacted after the two countries fell out when Canberra called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, without diplomatically consulting Beijing.
  • The U.K. has since dethroned China as the top destination for Australia’s wine exports, although that market is less than half the size of the Chinese market at its height.
  • Australia exports 60% of its wine production and China previously accounted for about 40% of those exports.
  • Some reported thaw of hostility in language between top government officials – Australian wine producers are hopeful for a return to Chinese market (Said one article)
  • Another article by CNN interviewed top producers who had capitalized on China’s wine boom and market find the changes “devastating”
    • the higher alcohol content in Ausstralian wine is also appealing to Chinese drinkers who are used to baijiu, a popular, strong liquor made from rice.
    • Another perk: Chinese consumers find the labeling system Australian winemakers use easier to understand than the regional labeling used by European companies,
    • Gravitate towards Australian reds