By the skin of its teeth, the Côte d’Or has largely escaped the frost travails of much of France (& Switzerland).
If relatively few had set light to their straw last Friday morning, it was easy to spot the difference as soon as you left the house last Saturday morning – the air in Beaune smelled of grass-fires. Many, many bails of hay and stray were set alight at 5am – to burn next to the vineyards, hoping to ward off temperatures of at least -2°C. I noted varying degrees of local commitment – there were plenty of burning bails on the route des grands crus in Gevrey, but nothing was to be seen in Morey or Chambolle – that said, Cyprien Arlaud used candles in his Clos St.Denis vines – Chablis-style.
In Vosne there was a good team effort with burning straw dotted around the commune and a good group of vignerons working together – Charles Lachaux doing the ‘belts and braces’ approach by having both bails of burning straw around his Romanée St.Vivant and candles between the rows too.
Beaune saw conspicuously little organised attempts to ward off the frost, but over 50 vingeron(ne)s gathered at 04h45 in Volnay to make some fires, it was the same further south too – not to mention some domaines hiring helicopters in the white grand crus of Puligny/Chassagne. Not everybody was unscathed – poor Savigny lost some production (again!) as did St.Aubin, St.Romain and a number of ‘Haute’ locations, though it wasn’t just the high spots, some small amounts of bourgogne at the bottom of Volnay was lost.
Afterwards the weather became cold and wet, but largely avoiding the negative temperatures. Yesterday, however, there were reports of isolated hail storms across the Côte d’Or – as far apart as Chassagne and Premeaux – though maybe in this case ‘storm’ is a little overstated as only a little damage has been reported. The main impact of the weather seem to have been to retard the growth of the vines – 2 weeks ago we were almost 2 weeks ahead of an average schedule – similar to 2007 and 2011 – but the cold has stripped that back by over a week – we are much closer to the average now – but the last days’ rain will have been welcomed by all those who didn’t have to go out in it – the start of 2017 has been very dry…
As for Beaujolais, the most affected area is in the south of the region – the Azergues valley – which was affected relatively early (21 April) by the frost. As it was quite early, it is mainly the chardonnay which was affected – so maybe a little less cremant will be made this year, but so-far, the gamay has survived intact.
Pics from Saturday 29th: