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some hail, some veraison and an eye on the 2013 harvest…

Claude asked yesterday ‘What are current harvest date estimates?’, and given the amount of permutations it seemed worth making an additional post…

philippe-bouzereau+meursaultAs a sidenote, earlier today there was a report that the vintage for the whole of France would be bad due to hail, so Philippe Bouzereau of Meursault, posted a picture (right) taken today to show just how terrible his hailed vines really are 😉 I also read that of France’s 900,000 hectares of vines, ‘only’ 37,000 hectares have been hailed – Alsace was also hit by hail this week – but that was clearly quite enough for Olivier Thiénot (director of l’école du vin à Paris) to declare the vintage a ‘fail’!

Focusing on the Côte d’Or; I showed the picture of veraison in Richebourg yesterday, but my contact in Beaune tells me that Beaune Cent-Vignes had a few coloured berries already 2 days ago – they are competitive these growers! Whilst some of the vineyards were dealt a very heavy hand by the hail, there is no real consistency; generally, losses range from 10-70% – sections of Savigny’s Liards and Lavières may be at 90% – higher parts of the Pommard/Beaune border were, likewise, decimated. A quick view of one grower’s holdings suggests the following losses: Corton 5-10%, Corton-Charlemagne 30%, Savigny 20%, higher-slope Beaunes ~60%, lower-slope Beaunes 20-30%. For their total portfolio the losses are estimated at 30% – but let’s not forget the Côte de Nuits wasn’t affected, not so far, at least – they still have a very special vintage to conjure with – likewise mid-Meursault (where most of the 1ers are) and south into Puligny and beyond.

But why all this talk of hail when we want to know about harvesting? Well the hail will play its part in when to harvest. Except for the hail of the 23rd, the Burgundians simply couldn’t have had better weather in July. August has started a little cooler and with rain, but it’s becoming warmer again. Already there was a feeling that some of the Côte de Beaune vineyards might be picked concurrently with, or even later than those of the Côte de Nuits – though those vines that have been hailed will almost certainly be picked after much of the Côte de Nuits – estimates are that the hailed vineyards have lost about 10 days of ripening – so would need 110 days from flowering. Growers of Côte de Nuits Grand Crus are currently estimating (August/September could of-course make changes) 27th or 28th September for harvesting, the Côte de Beaune reds were looking at the 25th, or were before the hail. The first whites are currently anticipated 20-25th September – let’s see – but it certainly looks like the 2013 harvest will compressed in to a few less days than usual.

And for those of you still unsure about what hail can do, take a peek at this short video from quite close to the Côte d’Or, you don’t need to speak French, the feeling of shock and awe is universal!

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