‘frostwatch’ – 2022 part 2

Update 5.4.2022(4.4.2022)billn

Vine caterpillar
Blagny – last Wednesday – they were everywhere.

Less than one week ago, it was munching caterpillars that were the main cause of ire for vigneron(ne)s – of course, for the moment, they have been forgotten.

Looking at things from afar, it doesn’t look good: Part of the départment of Champagne (Marne) registered the lowest (non-alpine) April temperature since 1947 when French records began: -9°C, with more than 90% of France being touched by the frost of Sunday into Monday – seemingly it was only Paris that escaped it.

Look closer – at least in (greater) Burgundy – and I’m more optimistic:

  1. Although the frost has arrived at the same time as in 2021, the vines in 2022 are generally a few days behind their position in 2021 – the buds are mainly in their ‘cotton’ stage and few of them are open – just a few in the most precocious locations and/or very young vines – and, as ever, it’s the chardonnay that is the most precocious.
  2. Although it makes for dramatic photos (see the tweet below) there are generally fewer candles in the vines right now than was the case in 2021.
  3. Unlike the black, Winter, frost of 2021, we have seen a more classically Spring-frost this time – so the wind turbines have some utility this year.
  4. The frost lasted multiple (7-10) days in 2021 – it looks like no more than 2-3 days this year.
  5. The lowest temperature on Sunday/Monday in Chablis (which was slightly colder than the Côte d’Or) was around -6.5°C – though one domaine has told me -9°C also in Vaillons – more generally -3° to -5°C. The positive for the growers was that it was quite dry in the vines (except where they have been using water-sprays!). They have a little more concern for Friday and Saturday night where temperatures were closer to -2°C but the buds were wet from snow and rain. Today there was zero evidence of snow on the hills of Chablis – I arrived at lunchtime to a sunny Spring day.
  6. I have heard, however, that Courgis may have fared less well than the rest of Chablis – let’s see – I’ll be there on Thursday!

So losses for sure – the fertility of even the unopened buds can be affected by low temperatures. Other than a potentially cold night next Saturday, the worst seems now to be over and certainly no frost is forecast for the next days except for the caveat for Saturday.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

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