It’s going to get hot this week – 40° hot. Many are the domaines that are altering their work schedule to cope – starting their days in the vines between 5-6am and finishing at lunchtime – at least the outdoor portion of their duties!
I briefly saw Mark O’Connell in the vines on Sunday (right, in his Pommard 1er Grand Clos des Epenots) and he told me “The foliage looks great, it looks like I haven’t got very big yields, but compared to what I’ve had in most years – 2018 excepted – I’m happy. So far nothing to worry about in terms of maladies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!”
Last week saw many domaines starting work on both their palissage – that’s securing the growing shoots between the wires to guard against the wind – and their hedging/pruning – i.e. cutting the tops off the quickly growing vines. This hedging usually only starts when the flowering is done and is most quickly done with a tractor and a cutter to mow the tops of the vines, but more and more domaines are choosing to use the old method of multiple people using hand-shears. As one grower confided “I’ve got 10 workers in the vines – I’ve got to keep them busy doing something! But joking aside, I’m doing this more and more by hand as that’s one less visit in the vines with a heavy tractor, compacting the soil.”
Flowering has been over for a while in some places, but Chablis and the Côte Chalonnaise were not yet over at the weekend – but it will be close to finished anytime now. I spoke with Eduard Parinet, who has vines in both Pouilly-Fuissé and in Moulin à Vent and he tells me that the vines, in both places, have recovered better than they could have hoped for following the frost of 05 April. The losses, however, are still estimated to be in the order of 25-30%.
Then there’s the question of the heat this week; The growth of the vines has been luxurious, despite not so much rain this year – another grower, Elodie Roy, told me yesterday “Thank god for the rain that we had on Friday night/Saturday morning – I’ve 1,200 new vines planted – I really didn’t want to be out in the heat with my watering can!” Of course, growth will slow if Burgundy touches 40°C – the plants tending to shut down to protect themselves from excess, but the weather pattern may cool a little and become stormy early next week – let’s see!