In European law, Roquefort cheese has to be made in Roquefort, Champagne in Champagne, Bordeaux in Bordeaux. As climate change disconnects products and geographies, CLIMAVORE follows how pastures, groves and vineyards are moving to new grounds.
In the mid-19th century, the appearance of the phylloxera insect reorganised food geopolitics across the European continent. The uncontrollable pest decimated thousands of acres of French vineyards, causing wine makers to venture into new regions overseas, settling and planting vines in Algeria as part of the French colonial project. A boom in fake wines fuelled by overproduction and imports from the Southern Mediterranean generated social unrest which led to the wine rebellion in Languedoc in 1907. As a result, merged regional tensions eventually settled into the new food certifications of the Appellation d’Origine Côntrollée system (Protected Designation of Origin).
Invented to correlate and protect “origin” and “quality” for food products in (continental) France, this framework is now in place across the EU and has inspired similar initiatives globally, regulating products that range from cheese and butter to fruits, vegetables, marmalades, honey, spirits and many others. But can these designated regions keep up with their own denominations? In principle, small producers are better equipped than large corporate businesses to engage with local produce, sustain biodiversity and work in direct connection with the surroundings, but how can even the most grounded initiatives cope with changing environments? How do we follow a season of fluctuating terroir?
CLIMAVORE seeks a language for the flavours of the climate crisis. What does it mean for wine to taste like hot July or for cheese to smell like a flowerless prairie? If Champagne producers are anticipating climate collapse by buying land in the south of England to plant the vineyards of the future, will we celebrate in a decade or two with a glass of Kent?