Climate Res. doi:10.3354/cr00759 (2008)

Credit: S. BEST

During the past few decades the Priorat region of northeastern Spain has risen from oenocultural near-abandonment to producing some of the world's most coveted wines. But climate change may make sustaining the pre-eminence of these cult wines ever harder.

María Concepción Ramos at the University of Lleida in Spain and her colleagues analysed climate records from 1952 to 2006. They found that climate change — especially increasing maximum temperature — is pushing the Priorat climate into a range that may be too warm to support the intense yet balanced wines for which the region is known. In an area with severe water limitations, the decreases in early-season precipitation that the team recorded may prove even more challenging than temperature change.