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At The Table With: Bastien Mingers

6 December 2019 by Food&HotelAsia

FHA Insider speaks to Bastien Mingers, Global Head of Wine & Spirits and Director of ProWein (co-located at FHA Food & Beverage) on climate change, sustainability and the future of wine.

How is climate change affecting the production of wine today?

In many countries around the world, the wine industry has been experiencing extreme weather conditions (heat, heavy rain falls) over the last few years. This has brought about a new sense of urgency as winemakers struggle to cope with the effects of changing climates, and resulting in many European wines becoming too alcoholic and opulent. Since the end of the century, there haven’t been any vintages in Europe with thin green wines, like it was just a generation ago. In a nutshell, there really isn’t an easy answer to the question if climate change has brought about good or bad changes to wine quality. Perhaps it should be viewed upon more so as new sets of challenges for winemakers worldwide.

How will climate change affect wine making in the future, if the status quo doesn’t change?

The range of impact is broad. And as mentioned earlier, it is not necessarily negative. Wine-growing regions can shift further north as a result of global warming: high-quality wines from the UK are no longer a rarity today, and winegrowing will also be possible in Norway in the future. But of course there are those in the other spectrum of things, where extreme heat and drought will require evolvement – that of new agricultural approaches in the vineyard, etc. I do think that the grape variety index must be rethought depending on the climatic conditions, and traditional methods must be reconsidered in the wine cellar.

Sustainability is a hot topic, what are some sustainable practices that have been adopted in wineries?

Sustainability in viticulture has many faces and starts as early as the planting of the vines. Drip irrigation systems are being expanded and vine canopy management practices are adopted to shield the grape zone from sun damage. In addition, erosion protection is provided by creating transverse terraces and permanent greenery. Further advantages of greening with various plant mixes are the promotion of biodiversity and the loosening of the soil by roots and living organisms.

What do you think sustainability means to the wine industry across the supply chain?

Our latest Business Report 2019 has produced very clear results here: The degree to which climate change has been felt by companies over the last 5 years varies by position in the value chain. Nine out of ten wine producers have already felt the effects of climate change while only six out of ten marketers have. Wine producers most affected are those least capable of avoiding the effects of climate change due to their economic ties to their land and property. Besides that, another key question would be consumers’ openness towards paying more for sustainability in wine production – to which will require additional investment from the wineries, both financially and in know-how.

Some in the industry are predicting that traditional cork stoppage and glass bottle packaging are on their way out – what are your thoughts on this?

I would leave this as debatable. But encourage everyone to think along the lines of ‘Why not use lightweight glass bottles instead of heavy glass bottles?’, ‘Why not use screw caps for light and easy-to-drink wines and keep the cork for quality wines?’

What kinds of packaging do you think will come next? Why?

From my point of view, glass bottles will remain the measure of things for a long time to come. But with the size there could be some movements in the game. Especially on the back of the gastronomy trend and bar scene, small bottles are on the rise especially for mixed wine drinks or sparkling wines.

China is becoming a massive player in the industry, both in purchasing wines and creating their own. Considering their influence across all markets, what do you think this means in the future?

In fact, China has so far appeared rather as an importer of wines from all over the world. This will change in the future. Not least through cooperation with winemakers from Europe, Latin America or Oceania, China has created first-class wineries that produce promising wines. Here we are only at the beginning of a great success story. Let’s also not forget the Southeast Asian markets and its emerging potential. Singapore topped the market with the highest potential for European and North American wine and spirits producers to enter over the next five years, according to the ProWein Business Report 2019. The report, the most comprehensive of its kind in the global wine industry, surveyed over 2,300 experts in the wine industry across 46 countries revealed another finding that puts the spotlight on Southeast Asia – in total, six Southeast Asian countries claimed the top 10 as emerging sales markets for producers and exporters. To this end, leveraging on the global networks and established expertise of ProWein in Düsseldorf is the ProWein World series of leading wines and spirits trade fairs, which has presence across high-interest markets of China, Hong Kong and Singapore – all of which are held alongside leading food and hospitality trade shows of: FHC-Food & Hotel China, HOFEX in Hong Kong and FHA-Food & Beverage in Singapore.

Finally, what are some major trends you see leading the way of wine?

Climate change and its impact on the wine industry will undoubtedly be a heated topic discussed by the trade in the coming years. But apart from that, there are other trends expected. An example is the increasing quality of alternatives to classic bottle fermentation – from Prosecco to Pet Nat, to Pignoletto, and from Charmat to Method Ancéstrale. Another trend is the increasing switch to dry white wines in classic sweet wine regions (such as Lake Neusiedl, Tokaj, Sauternes or Moselle), and “wine 2.0” at ProWein 2020 – featuring crossover wines such as cannabis wines, beer wines or even wines that have been aged in whisky barrels. Our trend scouts Paula Sidore and Stuart Pigott will present these wines at ProWein as part of their trend hour in a moderated tasting.

ProWine Asia is co-located at FHA Food & Beverage, 31st March – 3rd April 2020. Pre-register here for both shows and save SGD$80 on admission fees. 

 

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