This ‘fancy yellow’ is often the first iris (it was the second of about 14 varieties this year) to flower in my (Swiss) garden – you can compare the precocity of the flowering dates here too:
09 May 2018
23 May 2019
05 May 2020
23 May 2021
14 May 2022 (above)
Now is a good time to start looking more closely at the 2022 vintage for grapes too!
2022, as in most recent years, began with warmer temperatures in February and March but these temperatures at least followed a ‘proper’ winter with many frosts and even some occasional snow.
Of course, the biggest issue with warm weather in February and March is that the growth starts quite early in the vines such that Spring Frosts are more worrying events than was previously the case. The perfect example of this was last year, 2021, when the temperatures at the end of March were above 25°C, pushing the buds to start opening – but one week later, most of Burgundy was hit with overnight temperatures of -4 to -8°C – and for the best part of 10 days. Typically, this impacts the whites the most, as chardonnay tends to start its growth cycle a week, or more, before the pinot noir. White-centric domaines in 2021 lost 50-80% of their crops because of the frosts.
The situation was virtually identical this year – only the March temperatures were lower – ‘only’ 2-3° lower though, with 23-24°C – but the timing of this year’s frost was almost identical to that of 2021. Candles, newer wood-pulp burners, windmills and for the first time this year, quickly deployed trace-heating cables (Bonneau du Martray’s Corton-Charlemagne and Jobard’s Meursault Genevrières – powered by generators in the vineyards – which seems much more environmentally sustainable) were deployed. Many producers looked glum after the frosts had passed but the majority chose to bite their tongues, saying that we should wait for the flowering before commenting on ‘how bad’ the result might be. I waited too!
Rape-seed pollen everwhere!
Chardonnay flowers first, the pinots and gamay maybe a week later. We are currently seeing the debut of flowering in the Hautes Côtes, mid-flowering in the Côte de Nuits (Romanée-Conti, right) with some parts of the Côte de Beaune chardonnay already done – the smiles on the faces of the growers are currently broad – there are, it seems, plenty of grapes – which can often be the case after a frosted year – but nobody wants to think about consecutive frosts! Other than some wind and rain last weekend – storms were forecast but hardly materialised and this was a relief for growers because many of the shoots were long but not yet supported/restrained by the wires which will hold them in place – the wind can rip these fragile young shoots from their branches! The flowering has been in optimal weather; hovering around 30°C before the modest weekend wind and rain. It has been around 10°C cooler this week but with not much wind and fine blue skies.
Last week, the growers were in the vines treating them with sulfur against maladies; mildew really needs to be controlled before, or very early in, the flowering and seems rare for now, but oïdium is more of a worry in dry conditions. At the end of last week, Meteo France were proclaiming 40 consecutive days across France that exceded the annual average temperatures for the time of year – and herein lies the explanation for the (development of the) current stage of growth in the vines:
20th April 2022: estimate for growth – 2 weeks behind 2020 and 2014 at the same stage in those years
24th May 2022: estimate for growth, same as 2020 at the same stage that year*
*Chambre d’Agriculture for the Côte d’Or
Unlike 2021 where cooler, wet weather, prevailed for weeks after the frost, 2022 has seen warm weather and almost no retardation of growth. At the end of last week, coupled with some much-needed rain, one vigneron told me that it was hard to keep up with the growth of the vines – anywhere between 5-10cm (right, image from Pommard yesterday) of growth per day! For this reason, the vignerons are, this week, making their first rognages – trimming the tops of the vines – and are already marking their calendars for another August harvest in the Côte de Beaune and possibly in the Côte de Nuits too.
Without weather accidents, the potential yields look okay – assuming, of course, sufficient rain – which was an issue for many domaines in both 2019 and 2020 and there is already a rain deficit versus the average year.
Of course, I’ll keep you posted!