The climate greatly affects what wines grow and how they taste. The term “cool climate” refers to wine regions which specialize in varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
Certain wine varieties will not fully ripen if grown in a cool climate. For example, you’ll rarely, if ever, find grapes like Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon growing successfully in a cooler region. Instead, expect to find more white wine varieties and elegant or aromatic reds. Here are a few examples of varieties that produce exceptional wines when grown in a cool climate:
Pinot Noir, Gamay, Schiava, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Rondo, Regent, Lagrein, Chambourcin
Red wines from cool climates tend to have higher acidity, taste more spicy, have lower alcohol, and a lighter body.
Müller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Chasselas, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Madeleine Angevine, Bacchus, Solaris
White wines from cool climates tend to have higher acidity, more lemon-lime aromas, and are typically lower in alcohol, with a very light body.
Different wine varieties prefer different climates. This observation was made back in 2006 when a climatologist named Dr. Gregory V. Jones studied how climate variations influenced vine growing. The results of his work outlined four primary climate types for grape growing and the wine varieties best suited for each climate.
According to Jones, cool climate wine regions have average growing season temperatures of 55–59 ºF (13–15 ºC) and 850–1389 growing degree-days (Winkler Index). Want to know if a region has a cool climate? Generally you’ll find that cool climate regions have all four seasons, cooler summer days, and a shorter growing season.
A few examples of cooler climate wine growing regions may include:
With climate change, you can expect wine regions that are currently “cool” to become warmer and regions that were once too cool to grow grapes to be able to grow grapes. Regions which are now starting to produce potentially great cool climate wines include:
(Source: Wine Folly)