Chablis the 2024 hail update:


Chablis - Monday 6 2024
Chablis – Monday 6 2024

As I was there this week, I managed to ask a few questions.

I’m sure that the growers were more downbeat a week ago but ‘what’s done is done’ is the attitude today. But to recap:

On the evening of May 1st, a sequence of hail storms worked their way through northern France, including the Auxerois regions of Chablis/Irancy/St.Bris & Tonnerre, etcetera. In Chablis, the storms arrived in 3 waves – they came right through the middle of Chablis and although both right and left bank vineyards were hit, some areas were spared. It was the third wave of hail that did the most damage.

20 village communes make up the Chablis appellation, the most hail-affected were Chablis itself, Fontenay-près-Chablis, La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, Lignorelles, Ligny-le-Châtel, Maligny and Villy – so a third of those villages. Reports put about 1,000 hectares of Chablis’ 6,000 hectares as being badly affected – ie to the extent of losing much of the growth on the vine but with more limited damage to the wood of the vine, so pruning for next year may not be too difficult. Some areas already forecast total losses but it won’t be possible to properly estimate this year’s losses until the fruit-set after flowering – so in another 4-6 weeks. I can, however, leave you with some quotes:

Adrien Gautherin, Domaine Raoul Gautherin: “I was in the US and came back just in time for the hail! I’m well, certainly more well than the vines right now… But what’s lost is lost – we prune late so our growth was later so we lost slightly less – it’s bad but it’s far too early to quantify…

Margaux Laroche, Domaine d’Henri: “Well, we had already lost 2 hectares to the frost and I think that we’ve mainly lost 6 hectares to the hail – and that’s from 21 hectares! We are typically buying the produce of another 6 hectares but we don’t know how much of that will remain – so, conservatively, I think we have lost – already – 40% of the vintage.

Virginie Naudet, Domaine Moreau-Naudet: “Vaillons is ‘broken.’ 5 of our 11 hectares are in a really bad shape – including Valmur but we will wait for the sun when, hopefully, the vegetation will return.

Jerôme Flous, Billaud-Simon/Faiveley: “This year we’ve already had frost and hail; the hail was very bad in some places – the grand crus for instance – but fortunately not our Clos, also not in neighbouring Montée de Tonnerre or our Mont de Milieu but the hail hit plenty of other 1ers – so it wasn’t everywhere. We shall have to wait and see what we’ve lost – but it’s clear that we’ve lost a lot…

Given the relatively localised nature of the storms, a well-spread-out domaine may have lost 50%, others may have lost nearly everything or nearly nothing – such is hail…

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

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