Thursday, 5 September 2013

Burgundy Vintage (so far) Report 2013

This year so far, the poor Burgundy vines have seen it all. Floods, hail, mildew, oidium and snow in April. We can safely say, 2013 has been pretty rough so far for Burgundian wine makers. I am pleased to be able to declare, however, that all is not lost! Despite certain poor vineyards around Pommard which have been utterly decimated by freak hail the size of free range eggs tearing apart the leaves, grapes and trunks of the vines, the wine still has the potential to be quite good.

Across all of Europe this year, winter was long. In Burgundy, it was winter until May. Then summer arrived with no warning and these particularly precious vines could finally wake up and get going. The disastrous spring, although incredibly detrimental to many crops, actually wasn’t such bad news for vines and here’s why...

A cold spring is good primarily because it delays bud break. This is when the vines start to produce flower buds. If there is a late frost and the buds are already formed then a late frost can kill then off and they can’t regenerate. No flowers = no grapes. If there are no buds because of a cold spring, then there is nothing the low temperature can kill off.

This is what happened this year in Burgundy. Once the temperature finally rose enough for the vines to start producing buds, flowers, leaves and shoots, it was warm enough for frost to not be a threat. 

And so this year, because of the late start to the summer, the harvest will be at least three weeks later than normal beginning in the first two weeks of October rather than the usual early September. The current extremely good weather in Burgundy in ensuring that the grapes will reach full ripeness and make good wines. This is only so long as some kind of apocalyptic rainstorm doesn’t come along now and ruin everything.

So cross your fingers for a good autumn and I’m sure one day we’ll all be clinking glasses of 2013 Burgundy and laughing at how everyone thought this would be a rubbish vintage.

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