Last weekend, we began to hear reports of violent hailstorms hitting the Bordeaux region. It’s thought the freak storms, that brought hailstones the size of golf balls, have caused damage to hundreds of vineyards across the region. Following devastating frosts in early 2017, for the second time in just over the span of a year, winemakers in the region have to contend with a severely damaged crop. The team at Matthew Clark would like to pass on our sympathies and best wishes to everyone effected within the region.
Compared to last year’s frosts, the impact of this latest setback is, thankfully, not as widespread. Reports suggest that the hailstorms were highly localised. The hail began to fall in the city of Bordeaux itself, before moving north over the Cotes de Bourg and Cotes de Blaye to the vineyards of Cognac where around 25,000 acres were affected. Vineyards to the east of Bordeaux were also affected, the Pessac-Leognan and Medoc regions were among the first hit.
Some warmer weather in May following the slower start in April had been looking very promising. On 26th May, however, there was a 15-minute downpour of hail. This has touched some specific areas in Bordeaux, particularly Bourg and Blaye, while the majority remained untouched.By Robert Mathias, Wine Buyer
We reported that the harvest last year produced 51% lower yields for the region compared to 2016, it’s expected that yields will not be as severely hit for 2018 - despite some winemakers losing their entire crop. Last year’s production total was the lowest on record; prices rose accordingly. It’s still unclear how the hail will affect 2018 prices, but it’s worth bearing in mind that around 3% of vineyards in the region have lost most of their crop, considerably less than last year. As is often the case, the individual growers and wineries affected will bear the heaviest cost.
For those unaffected, attention will turn to continued wet weather which could affect yield if it doesn’t let up. Merlot, the region’s most widely planted variety, is starting to flower and prolonged rain can produce a poor fruit set. Fabrice Dubourdieu, son of Denis Bubourdieu maintains, the potential production is high so far, "flowering has started in our earliest Merlot at Château Reynon. If it goes all right we may have rather high volumes for the 2018 vintage. Thankfully our vineyards, haven't been affected by last week's hail storm". Bordeaux is also not the only area affected, a few days later hail hit Champagne, wiping out 1,000 hectares of grapes. Champagne’s reserve system means that we’re unlikely to see shortages, however, as producers in the region are permitted to blend new wines with stocks built up from previous years.
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