The SW Summary: On hybrid grapes in Bordeaux, sustainability disclosure standards, ancient fungus for stronger vines, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Hybrid grapes in Bordeaux

In Wine-Searcher Barnaby Eales reports on the expected authorization for the use of hybrid grapes in Bordeaux. This summer, Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellations will be allowed to plant and make wines from the following disease-resistant varieties: Sauvignac, Souvignier Gris, Floréal and Vidoc Noir. The same hybrid varieties will also be allowed in the Médoc and Haut-Médoc appellations, as well as the Voltis variety. 

The appellation bodies requested authorizations for the inclusion of hybrid grapes from France’s Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) as part of their climate adaptation strategies. According to current rules, “hybrid grapes can only account for a maximum of 5 percent of a producer’s planted vineyard area” and can “make up a maximum 10 percent of finished blends.”

Whilst some producers eagerly embrace hybrids, others are hesitant to do so, fearing an end to wine typicity. Jean-Baptiste Duquesne, producer at Château Cazebonne, admits that “hybrid grapes are the ‘future’, even if he is not enamored by them.” Instead of turning directly to hybrids, Duquesne is focused on “recovering and making wine blends from Bordeaux lost native varieties.” Read more here.

The ISSB’s incoming Sustainability Disclosure Standards 

Bruce White’s article in The National Law Review recaps the ISSB’s sustainability disclosure standards to be issued in June this year and effective as of 2024. The ISSB, International Standards Sustainability Board, was formed in November 2021 in response to an international demand for “high-quality, transparent, reliable and comparable reporting by companies on climate and other environmental, social and governance matters.” The sustainability disclosure standards aim to provide a global baseline for sustainability reporting that provides investors and other capital market participants with comprehensive and comparable information about companies’ risks and opportunities.

The ISSB standards put the spotlight on Scope 3 emissions, or a company’s indirect emissions that occur within its value chain. The standards will require disclosure of Scope 3 emissions, when material, alongside Scope 1 and 2 emissions (a company’s direct emissions and indirect emissions from electricity purchased and used, respectively). Scope 3 emissions typically make up the majority of a company’s carbon footprint, but are difficult to identify, track and measure. Recognising the data availability issues, the ISSB will provide “a minimum one-year extension of the effective data of the Scope 3 disclosure requirements” and will develop implementation guidance and a measurement framework.

Read more here.

Mycorrhizal fungi: The good kind of fungus

In SevenFifty Daily Lauren Johnson-Wünscher discusses the benefits of Mycorrhizal fungi in the vineyard. Mycorrhizal fungi have a “mutually beneficial relationship with plants.” The fungi attach to a plant’s roots and live off its carbohydrates, while helping the roots absorb more water and nutrients. As they grow, the fungi roots descend deeper into the soil and have the potential to “expand a plant’s root systems by as much as 700 times.”

This symbiotic relationship called mycorrhizae can be found in “at least 90 percent of all land plants,” and viticulturists can encourage mycorrhizal colonization through regenerative approaches, such as no till and cover crops. As climate change exacerbates the risks of drought, pests and diseases, mycorrhizae can play an important role in increasing the resilience and strength of the vines. Read more here.

New guidance for freshwater science-based targets

In this article for Quantis, Simon Gillet and Tatiana Fedotova report on the Science Based Targets Network’s (SBTN) recently launched guidance for freshwater science-based targets. Despite being a crucial natural resource, water is a “major blindspot for many companies.” Business can develop more effective and comprehensive water strategies by setting science-based targets to reduce and manage their water impacts and risk.

The new guidance aims to serve as a unified approach to water strategy. It’s aligned with existing water stewardship standards and best practices such as Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Targets can currently only be set for a company’s own operations and upstream value chain, with downstream guidance to follow in the future.

The freshwater method is being released alongside new SBTN guidance that aims to help business assess its nature impact, prioritise locations and identify hotspots along the value chain. Read more here.

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About the author

Hanna Halmari

Hanna Halmari is the editor at Sustainable Wine and the head of conferences at Innovation Forum. Hanna specialises in sustainability research and events across various industries. She holds an MSc in international development from Kings’s College London, where she developed a strong interest in political economy and post-communist transformation. Hanna speaks Finnish, Bulgarian and English. In her spare time she is a dedicated Radio Lollipop volunteer at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, enjoys travelling, and tasting new wines.