Vintage 2016

2hl/ha? it ain’t half hot mum!

By billn on August 26, 2016 #harvests#vintage 2016

 Beaune, 21h00 tonight

This morning really reminded me of 2015 – getting the gardening done before 10am – before the temperatures got too high.

Late afternoon Beaune sweltered in 37°C – long live aircon I say, having travelled 4 hours from Bern!

Despite this week’s similarity to 2015, this time last year the Côte d’Or whites had already been largely harvested, fewer growers were in the reds, but the equivalent of next week was (red) D-Day for most producers. This year, I don’t expect much to happen before the 20th September, maybe closer to the 26th…

But what are they going to pick? The Côte de Nuits is not THAT bad, but I spoke to David Croix today, who this week was back from two weeks of holiday. “Well, we did quite the most thorough evaluation of the grapes in the Domaine des Croix vineyards that I’ve ever done, it it doesn’t look good. The average was less than one cluster per vine – about 2-3 hectolitres per hectare. I might be a little out and could be surprised and get 5 – but I won’t be getting 15. And we thought that 2012-2015 was bad! Okay this year we pruned late and had a lot of weeds in the vines – that seemed to exacerbate the effect of the frost. I might make 10 barrels this year” How many do you usually make? – was the obvious question – “oh, about 100…”

On that note, maybe it’s better to concentrate on the pretty sky this evening!

there, but for the grace, and projecting a harvest date…

By billn on August 19, 2016 #harvests#vintage 2016

hailTruly awful hail hit southern France on Wednesday afternoon – there were similar storms in Switzerland too where the ground turned green-white – a mix of shredded foliage and hailstones. Over 1,000 hectares were ‘touched’ in the Languedoc-Roussillon, including most of Pic Saint-Loup. Judging by some of the images, there may not be anything to properly prune for 2017 – i.e. there may also be no grapes next year!

This time, at-least, greater Burgundy was spared, though anything can still happen between now and harvest time. Talking of harvest time, and based on the current state of veraison, it looks like the reds may be ready for picking from the 26 September – of-course some producers habitually wait longer. Usually the whites are picked 7-10 days before the reds, but there are some indications that this year it may only be 1-3 days before the reds. Let’s see!

Yesterday I did a little tour in Beaujolais. The big hail event for them was largely in the crus, little in the south of Beaujolais was touched; Mainly it was the area between Morgon and Fleurie, plus Chiroubles and some Juliennas. These vines were largely stripped of all growth in late May, but the rain that came with the hail was so hard, that afterwards, there was no shredded vegetation to be seen on the slopes – it had all been washed down the drains. Today they have recovered well and look quite healthy, despite being only half the size of usual for the time of year – but, unsurprisingly, I spotted only one bunch of grapes per 8 or 9 vines. It was also easy to see the impact of large hail projectiles on all the hard-wood parts of the vines!!

mid-july burgundy vineyard update

By billn on July 20, 2016 #harvests#vintage 2016


“I know it’s only July, but frankly I can’t wait for this vintage to be over. We were proud to have survived the growing seasons of 2012 and 2013, but 2016 is on another level. The harvest will not be better, very few grapes and a massive competition to buy grapes too – probably at prices that will make the bottles unsellable – it’s also probable that some producers and maisons will go out of business – it will just depend on their banks.”
A Beaune grower yesterday evening…

Extra Work
Weeds have been big problems this year – growers don’t recollect them growing so fast before – it’s clearly a vintage for weeds. There is also much extra work in training and pruning; those vines affected by frost growing more like bushes and needing particular care so that there will be something to prune to allow fruit in 2017! It’s interesting to see some occasional plots in the Beaune 1ers that seem to have been abandoned – straggly growth and lots of weeds as high as the vines – here there are of-course no grapes after the frost – some people are either prioritising – or have already given up!

After the (unreported) hail of the 24th June took out some of Gevrey’s Lavaux St.Jacques, there was more (unreported) hail in Chassagne last Wednesday (13th July) – both were localised and weather reporters simply cannot track these storms.

July usually sees the last treatments before domaines go on holiday, but the vineyards are busier than usual. Some are trimming their vines – and quite late versus most years – and others are still treating against the threat of mildew. The weather for the last 5-6 days has joined in the fight against the mildew – there’s been a drying north wind in that time – but the damage has already been done. The northern vineyards of Champagne and Chablis have been decimated by mildew – “If you thought the hail and frost was bad – you should see what the mildew has done.” an owner in both Beaune and Chablis told me on Monday.

The Côte d’Or has suffered much less than Champagne and Chablis, but there is plenty of dew each morning and this isn’t going to help protect against oïdium. Normally you have either mildew or oïdium, but not both – but in a vintage like 2016 the producers are not counting what chickens they have left – indeed they are praying that the pendulum doesn’t swing too far from mildew to oïdium.

The heat
It seems almost churlish to invoke ‘heat’ when we’ve had such a generally cool vintage – but yesterday it was 33°C in Beaune and today it is forecast to be over 36°C. The heat itself isn’t really the problem, rather it is the sudden arrival of such heat without acclimatisation by the vines – “It’s the spikes in temperature are the problem. After the frost, and the mildew, those grapes that survived will probably get roasted today…

Sometimes I’m really surprised how upbeat some producers can be – when not talking about their vines. But did I mention that storms are (again) forecast by Meteo-France for the Côte d’Or later today……(?)

2016 – the annus (growing season) horribilis – – –

By billn on July 05, 2016 #harvests#vintage 2016

Bourgogne Aujourd’hui put a article together that follows the low points of the vintage so-far (in French) at the end of last week, a week when the Rhône was badly hailed. Here. (or if you prefer a google translation, here.)

Episodes of hail are almost going unmentioned in a year such as this; Friday 24th June there was a big rainstorm in the Côte d’Or that afternoon – the same storm (presumably) that hailed Fleurie(++) on the same day – only by speaking to an owner did I find out that parts of the Côte d’Or were also hailed; their parcel of Lavaux St.Jacques being completely lost. Presumably this group of owners have no Facebook presence to announce this particular loss to the world – or have given up!

Currently, most of the Burgundian growers are spraying, and then spraying again against mildew – not entirely successfully – we have seen more treatments this year, so-far, than in the whole of 2015. Then there are the grapes; the heavy rain of Friday 24th came towards the end of flowering (some was already finished) and it seems that it did cause some further yield loss with indications of small or aborted grapes be reported to me.

In Burgundy 2016 it seems that when it rains, it really pours…


By billn on June 22, 2016 #vintage 2016

Pommard Les Chanlins Hautes…

I didn’t want to depress you (me actually!) with a picture of yesterday’s first day summer – low cloud and rain, indeed rain through the whole night of the the 20th too – but by mid-afternoon yesterday, there was blue sky and by 6pm the temperature had increased to t-shirt level!’ Luckily as it was the Fêtes de Music in Beaune, so some drinks and ‘dodgy’ live bands had to be experienced!

Whilst some places like Savigny are still behind the flowering curve, the majority of those later flowers will be open today and tomorrow – days forecast to be sunny with 29-30°C. Today I jogged around Pommard and Volnay – camera in hand! Here again not all the flowers are visible, but some have also clearly finished flowering too. As we might now expect, given that there have been no really settled periods so-far in 2016, the weekend is forecast to be ‘changeable,’ perhaps even stormy…

There’s plenty of work in the vineyards though – the weeds are massive – one thing that certainly wasn’t curtailed by the frost! Many a vigneron are saying that it’s one of the most obvious aspects of the growing season, so-far. There are also plenty of people spraying, despite the ongoing flowering, as there’s a lot of concern about mildew. Otherwise there’s weeding, de-budding and even some canopy trimming at the moment.

more (or less) flowers…

By billn on June 20, 2016 #travels in burgundy 2016#vintage 2016

Beaune 1er Bas du Teurons on Friday.

We’re still not into what I’d call mid-flowering here in the Côte d’Or.

Although there have been flowers here and there all over the Côte d’Or, particularly in the perfectly located grand crus, but it’s easy to see that virtually nothing was flowering in most of Savigny over the weekend. Looking at the frosted vineyards – which is the majority of Savigny – I counted about 10 clusters per 10 vines – pre-flowering of-course.

I did a short tour in Beaune on Friday too – there’s more flowering here, but still less than a third of the clusters were flowering. Still we had a nice sunny afternoon on Sunday and Monday/Tuesday look like nice weather – much should be underway by then – I expect!

A few pics from my wanderings mainly in Savigny, Friday-Sunday:


By billn on June 14, 2016 #vintage 2016

Vineyard Floraison

The weather is far from settled – or for that matter, warm – we have about 18-22° in the forecast for this week – more rain than sun, too!

But the first/early flowers can be seen, here and there, across the Côte de Nuits. It looks like we will be in ‘peak flowering’ by the end of the week, certainly the weekend. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say Friday for mid-flowering, add 100 days, equals harvesting from the 25th September(?) Let’s see…

I’ll keep you posted…

the first flowers of 2016…

By billn on June 09, 2016 #vintage 2016

WP_20160608_10_19_39_Pro (2)It was cool to see the first flowers of 2016 yesterday – even more-so to have the ‘buzzing’ accompaniment of the hover-flies too. I only had my phone with me, so I’m doubly impressed by this result!

This picture was taken in the southern Beaujolais Villages area – but truth be told it’s a semi-fake! These gamay vines are actually in a nice ‘garden’ in the city of Villefranche – the commercial capitol of the Beaujolais region – so they are not really in a ‘true’ vineyard area.

But they are real flowers – the outliners for the vignoble. They are a few days ahead of the ‘real vineyards’ as the city has a temperature advantage versus the vineyards – and remained ‘frostless’ this year. But yesterday was 28°C in the Beaujolais, so the real ‘floraison‘ is clearly not far away…

[EDIT:]The first flowers reported in a real Burgundy vineyard today by Jean-Philippe Bret in (chardonnay) Pouilly-Vinzelles!

burgundy vineyard update: no flowers yet…

By billn on June 06, 2016 #vintage 2016

Meursault 1er Clos des Perrières – today.

Well, having been away for 10 days, I though that my first job today should be to tour the vines of the Côte de Beaune – more particularly the place where flowering usually starts in the chardonnay. Two years ago I found the very first flowers in this nicely wind-shaded, south-facing spot in Meursault Perrières – on the 21st May. Today, a little over two weeks later-on in the year and the flowers are still waiting to open. It’s forecast to be warmer this week – and we do indeed have some nice sun today – maybe that will be a catalyst, but the weather forecast is far from settled…

The palissage, or training of the vines has been partly done – those shoots not affected by the frost are sufficiently large to train between the wires, but the new/second-growth is not quite developed enough to reach the wires yet – the wires protect the vine growth from the wind which can easily rip-off the shoots. Given the lateness of the growth, we need a beautiful summer to start very soon, or there will be zero chance of second-growth bunches reaching ripeness – even the first growth may not be ready before the end of September…

One vigneron I spoke to today related that the majority of his vines have responded quite well to the challenge of the frost, he won’t have much fruit this year but he’s pretty sure that he will have something to prune so that he has fruit next year – which was his biggest concern – though one of his vineyards in Savigny ‘still looks like winter…’

I will, of-course, keep you posted…

Burgundy Report

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