“I know it’s only July, but frankly I can’t wait for this vintage to be over. We were proud to have survived the growing seasons of 2012 and 2013, but 2016 is on another level. The harvest will not be better, very few grapes and a massive competition to buy grapes too – probably at prices that will make the bottles unsellable – it’s also probable that some producers and maisons will go out of business – it will just depend on their banks.”
A Beaune grower yesterday evening…
Weeds have been big problems this year – growers don’t recollect them growing so fast before – it’s clearly a vintage for weeds. There is also much extra work in training and pruning; those vines affected by frost growing more like bushes and needing particular care so that there will be something to prune to allow fruit in 2017! It’s interesting to see some occasional plots in the Beaune 1ers that seem to have been abandoned – straggly growth and lots of weeds as high as the vines – here there are of-course no grapes after the frost – some people are either prioritising – or have already given up!
After the (unreported) hail of the 24th June took out some of Gevrey’s Lavaux St.Jacques, there was more (unreported) hail in Chassagne last Wednesday (13th July) – both were localised and weather reporters simply cannot track these storms.
July usually sees the last treatments before domaines go on holiday, but the vineyards are busier than usual. Some are trimming their vines – and quite late versus most years – and others are still treating against the threat of mildew. The weather for the last 5-6 days has joined in the fight against the mildew – there’s been a drying north wind in that time – but the damage has already been done. The northern vineyards of Champagne and Chablis have been decimated by mildew – “If you thought the hail and frost was bad – you should see what the mildew has done.” an owner in both Beaune and Chablis told me on Monday.
The Côte d’Or has suffered much less than Champagne and Chablis, but there is plenty of dew each morning and this isn’t going to help protect against oïdium. Normally you have either mildew or oïdium, but not both – but in a vintage like 2016 the producers are not counting what chickens they have left – indeed they are praying that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far from mildew to oïdium.
It seems almost churlish to invoke ‘heat’ when we’ve had such a generally cool vintage – but yesterday it was 33°C in Beaune and today it is forecast to be over 36°C. The heat itself isn’t really the problem, rather it is the sudden arrival of such heat without acclimatisation by the vines – “It’s the spikes in temperature are the problem. After the frost, and the mildew, those grapes that survived will probably get roasted today…”
Sometimes I’m really surprised how upbeat some producers can be – when not talking about their vines. But did I mention that storms are (again) forecast by Meteo-France for the Côte d’Or later today……(?)