The influence of climate on the aromas and characteristics of wine (episode 1/3)

The climate has a fundamental influence on the flavor of ripe grapes and therefore of the wine. We can simplify by defining four basic types of climate:

  • Cool climates (average temperature during the vegetative cycle <16.5 ° C)
  • Temperate climates (average temp between 16.5 and 18.5 ° C)
  • Hot climates (average temp between 18.5 and 21 ° C)
  • Very hot climates (average temp over 21 ° C)

Added to this is the notion of continentality which limits the type of grape varieties that can be cultivated and impacts the degree of alcohol, acidity and tannins. There are mainly three types of continentality that condition the cultivated grape varieties:

  • the continental climate does not allow the cultivation of grape varieties needing heat such as cabernet sauvignon. You will find Chardonnay and Pinot Noir there
  • The oceanic climate gives great latitude for all types of grape varieties 
  • As for the Mediterranean climate, it will lead to more robust wines, with a higher degree of alcohol and a lower acidity. 

If we consider the main global grape varieties, here is what it gives to the aroma and flavors of the wine:



The aromas common to chardonnays around the world are those resulting either from aging or from the type of vinification practiced:

The aromas of butter and cream are linked to malolactic fermentation, those of toast, vanilla and coconut are linked to aging in oak barrels; finally, the aromas of honey and dried fruits are linked to the aging of the wine.

Then come the aromas linked to the climate:

  • Green fruits (apple, pear), notes ofcitrus (lemon, grapefruit) and sometimes vegetables (cucumber) in cool climates such as Chablis, the regions of Chile and Argentina close to the Andes mountain range which produce high quality wines. 
  • White stone fruits (peach), notes ofcitrus (lemon, grapefruit) and melon in the temperate climates  such as the Gold Coast, the cool to temperate regions of Australia (Adelaide hills, Margaret river, Yarra Valley) and California (Sonoma, Carneros) as well as South Africa (Walker bay), with wines from very high quality.
  • White stone fruits (peach), Tropical fruits (banana, pineapple, mango, fig) in the hot climates such as California (Stags leap, Oakville, Rutherford, Yountville), Australia (Hunter valley, Margaret river), New Zealand (Auckland, Gisborne, Martinborough)



This grape variety is called Syrah in France and Shiraz in Australia. It is not grown in cool climates. 
It has a core of characteristics independent of the climate (Colored wines with medium acidity and medium or high tannins as well as aromas of black fruits (blackberry) and chocolate.

To this, always regardless of the climate, are added the aromas linked to the vinification and aging of the wine: the aging in oak barrels brings notes of toast, smoke, vanilla and coconut. Aging brings animal and vegetal notes (leather, wet leaves, earth).

Comes next the influence of the climate which adds the following aromas:

  • In the temperate climates : nuances herbaceous plants (thyme, mint, tobacco), smoked meat and spices (black pepper). We find these nuances in the Rhône valley (Hermitage, Côte rotie, Saint Joseph, Chateauneuf du Pape, ...), in the United States (Santa Cruz Mountains, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara), in Chile (Casablanca, Eloui , Cachapoal), in Argentina (San Juan, Maipu), in South Africa (Robertson, Stellenbosh, Walker bay), in Australia (Geelong, Heathcote, Eden Valley, Yarra Valley, ..) and in the north of New Zealand .
  • In the hot climates : nuances of sweet spices (licorice). They are found in California (Saint Helena, Calistoga), Chile (Colchagua), South Africa (Stellenbosch, South of Table Mountain, Swartland) and of course in the country king of Shiraz: Australia (Barossa Valley, Hunter valley, Clare valley, Mc Laren Valley, Goulburn Valley).


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