Saturday, May 16, 2009


Fresh off the Winedoctor, this report from Bordeaux:


Hail in Bordeaux: Vineyards Devastated

Reported in Sud-Ouest on Wednesday, May 13th: a huge hailstorm on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning this week appears to have devastated a number of Bordeaux vineyards. Quoted in the article is Catherine Dufour, deputy director of the Chambre d'Agriculture de la Gironde, who indicates that St Emilion and Graves are the better known areas to be hardest-hit, with more damage in the Entre-Deux-Mers, Côtes de Castillon and Côtes de Bordeaux appellations.

Tuesday night's storm came soon after a stormy Monday afternoon characterised by gigantic hailstones (see image on right, courtesy of Sud-Ouest). The vines won't yet be in flower, but they are in leaf and it appears many have been denuded of all greenery and in some cases even the wood has been damaged; that isn't surprising looking at the size of the hailstones, and at some of the other pictures on Sud-Ouest which in some cases show damage sustained to local properties (broken glass or exterior light fittings, for instance). With that level of damage to the vines this obviously has implications for the 2009 harvest, but perhaps the 2010 harvest as well. There are already reports emerging over some properties having lost up to 90% of the 2009 harvest, including some famous names in St Emilion. So far there is no news of any damage in Pomerol.

An updated report on Sud-Ouest today (Thursday 14th) does indeed suggest some vignerons will have lost the entire harvest; Joël Duffau, of the Entre-Deux-Mers estate Chateau La Mothe du Barry, explains how in five minutes a resplendently green vineyard was laid to waste. It is less well known vignerons like this who suffer most in this sort of catastrophe; famous estates have funds in reserve, old vintages to sell, or perhaps more willing creditors, but little family-run estates in less prestigious appellations who work hand-to-mouth, year-on-year, are the first to go under. I hope this isn't the case for Joël Duffau and his neighbours. (14/5/09)


I hope my beloved Côtes de Castillon wines are safe. Always respect the power of nature.

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