Time for an end of May round-up:
I show you the pictures of my iris(s) only to emphasise the point – they are between 6 and 10 days later blooming than last year. Last year they only had another week of nice blooms before they were starting to look a little tired, but this year not all the varieties have flowered yet – perhaps over the weekend as +26°C is forecast.
It’s quite similar in Burgundy.
At the end of March – in-line with most recent vintages – the vineyards were warm and the buds were swelling. For all intents and purposes, we were ahead of the curve (the average) and could easily have been looking at another late-August, early-September harvest – that was before the April’s, and indeed most of May’s, weather.
April brought a number of frosty nights and generally colder weather than March – March often brought temperatures above 22°C – not a single day was above 20° in April – and 12° was closer to the norm. A cohesiveness of vignerons never previously seen was in action in the Côte d’Or choosing to ‘fight’ the frost; candles, bales of straw – you name it, it was burnt – including many sausages at impromptu barbecues, including one near Echézeaux – even Aubert de Villaine joined in the 9.00am drinks on the 14 April, though perhaps imbibing less than some who got home at 11 am and promptly went to bed to sleep it all off!
Most people seem to have seen more damage in the first week of April (05-06), despite most of the buds not being open – the worst has been in the Mâconnais with (possibly) an average of 30% losses – though depending on your place – much more or much less. The Côte de Nuits, Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais Crus have hardly been affected – though southern Beaujolais has losses, mainly in the chardonnay – but the bottom of the slopes in the Côte de Beaune and certainly the unprotected areas in Chablis will have suffered – it was a very classic Spring Frost this year, right into May too. Until the fruit-set, post-flowering, we can’t really say much more about what degree of damage.
As noted, May was also uncharacteristically cold – some more bales of hay were burned – often questionably, as it wasn’t even minus temperatures! But properly warm May weather didn’t return until practically the end of the month – this brought a few outliners of flowering in sheltered but sunny spots, but real flowering – up and down the Côte d’Or – will be something for the first week to 10 days of June 2019. For now, harvesting looks like a mid-September operation…
Fortunately, April and May brought some welcome rain – the winter and spring have been very dry. This in itself isn’t a problem – but if the near drought summer conditions of 2017 & 2018 are to be repeated, then there will be some problems. For now, the rest is conjecture and the summer has finally begun…