Bordeaux’s ‘magnificent’ lost vintage pushes small growers to the edge

Posted: February 10, 2018 by oldbrew in climate, News, Uncertainty, weather

Bordeaux in south western France

The French wine industry in Bordeaux is counting the cost of the unusual April 2017 frosts that wiped out 40% of its expected crop, with some growers losing over 70%. Nothing like it had happened in the region for over 25 years. Quote: “As of January 3, banks are starting to pull back. They’ve been sending out letters demanding that short-term loans be paid back immediately”.

Surveying a nearly empty cellar, Frederic Nivelle of Bordeaux’s prestigious Chateau Climens, reflects on what might have been an outstanding year for the sweet white Sauternes wine, reports

“We have nine batches which are satisfactory but not enough to produce a Climens,” Nivelle says of the 2017 harvest.

“It’s a shame, it had a nice potential.”

It will be the first time since 1993 the estate has missed the annual vintage for its top drop, first awarded the Grand Cru classification in 1855.

With a harvest that slumped to just two hectolitres (about 44 gallons) from the usual 20 hectolitres, Chateau Climens will get by on stock of the 2016 vintage—though Nivelle said he was facing nearly an entire year’s worth of lost sales.

Overall wine production in Bordeaux shrank 40 percent last year as vineyards found themselves coated in late frost twice at the end of April, ravaging the fragile shoots and buds that emerged prematurely following an unusually mild March.

But while some escaped unscathed, such as those in Medoc, others in Saint-Emilion were hit particularly hard.

One out of five Bordeaux estates lost more than 70 percent of last year’s harvest, according to the local agriculture council, mainly the lower-lying where the frost was most severe.

Climens lies on lower ground, while chateaux at higher altitude, including stars such as Yquem or Rieussec, were largely spared the damage.

Xavier Planty, president of the Sauternes-Barsac winegrowers’ association, predicted “a magnificent vintage” for these lucky few, citing an ideal contribution from botrytis, or “noble rot”.

No insurance

Like most houses, Climens had not taken out insurance to cover frost damage. The prospect didn’t seem worth the high cost, especially since the region hadn’t seen a similar spring cold snap since 1991.

Continued here.

  1. Hifast says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    And this viticulture piece originates from…

  2. Stephen Richards says:

    I can vouch for the catastrophe. My neighbours lost the lot. Potatoes were destroyed but, left in the ground, they came back later but with less fruit. The winter plant here is broadbean and they were mostly picked. those weren’t died

  3. tom0mason says:

    If the weather model forecasts for next week are to be trusted, then they’ll have a lot more to worry about by the time March rolls round —

  4. tom0mason says:

    I note that Joe Bastardi feels the upcoming ‘Warming Hole’ in Europe is significant enough to comment on.