I got up early today to visit Chablis – an 08h30 producer appointment before tasting a range of wines from Irancy (2015).
I often encountered temperatures of 1-2°C whilst on the autoroute, but nothing lower – the skies were clear blue and the sun was shining.
As I approached Chablis I could see that it was just about the only place with some overhead cloud – but I noted it wasn’t the usual white-grey, it was brown-grey – it didn’t take me long to work out that this was the accumulation of the smoke from all the vineyard candles that are used to guard against the frost – there was no wind, so the smoke simply stayed put.
After my visit in La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, the direct route back to Chablis took in the Chablis 1er Cru of l’Homme Mort – a cru that for many years made up a percentage of many Fourchaumes. It was now 09h30 but I was greeted by the water-cannons still working in the vines – I decided that it was time to get wet! What was instantly clear was that, in this location, if the vines weren’t getting a good soaking, then they were brown and already lost to the frost – those covered by the cannons looked normal and green. Driving further round to the grand crus, clearly here the preferred protection was the aforementioned candles, allowing the vines and earth to stay dry – which endows 2-4°C more protection from the frost.
Having discussed with Frédéric Drouhin on Saturday, I had the chance to ask a couple more producers what they though – both were non-commital, and had a very similar message;
“Clearly some places have lost at least 50%, and a little rain in Maligny and Lignorelles at the start of last week means that those areas were much more sensitive to the frost. But the difference between the plots are so marked that it won’t be before the end of the week before I have a decent idea, myself, what is lost and what is saved. I need to see how some of the opposing buds come through this, and we have cold and wet forecast for the end of the week – so it’s really not over yet!”