The candles were deployed last week in the Côte d’Or – the windmills too.
Most were not used – but a few saw service with temperatures hovering around -1°C. The weather was dry so these measures were more prophylactic than as a counter to any yield-limiting events. I could say the same for Beaujolais too where I noted a few candles in the vines but none that were gainfully employed.
In Chablis, there were a couple of nights of candle-burning – the sprays were turned on too – temperatures a little lower than the Côte d’Or. I’m not aware of any major gnashing of teeth, so I suspect that they probably got through things relatively unscathed. All the regions have ‘enjoyed’ a little wind so that usually reduces the impact of frost too.
Did I mention that the timing of (potential) frost(s) was, almost to the day, exactly the same as in 2021 and 2022? That being the case we can see that the growth is less advanced this year than either of the last two vintages, so issues should be few and far between – for now. Given similar timings of frost, the stage of growth in the vines becomes important. 2023 is at a similar growth timing to last year – 2022 – ie – a few days later than was the case in 2021 – so 2023 has less to damage and the (frost) temperatures were milder this year too – so for now – all looks fine. There are always earlier areas (and younger vines are earlier too) but bud-burst (on average) for Chardonnay is not expected until mid-April with the pinot noir expected to follow one week later.
Over the last 6 months, the average of rainfall across the Côte d’Or/Hautes Côtes is 333 mm with a minimum of 286mm recorded in Auxey-Duresses and a maximum of 389mm recorded in Echevronne. The average is currently 362mm, so the deficit over these 6 months is only 9%. Nobody is reporting any excess dryness at this stage, despite the popular news stories at the start of this year proclaiming that France had over 30 consecutive days without rain.
Ignoring frost or rain, the mange-bourgeons – caterpillars to you and I – are starting their annual rampage, and this year they could pose the threat of more losses than the frost. A farmer’s work is never done!