Bordeaux: Hopes rise for 2023 harvest but mildew leaves mark

Bordeaux: Hopes rise for 2023 harvest but mildew leaves mark

St-Emilion vineyards
St-Emilion and its vineyards.

Bordeaux has been unescapable its 2023 harvest without something of a rollercoaster growing season.

Whilst the key flowering period went well, suggesting potential for a big crop, subsequent bouts of hot weather and rain brought humid conditions that enabled mildew to thrive, said Christophe Chteau, communications director at the Bordeaux wine agency (CIVB).

More favourable weather in August has increased optimism for the fruit that survived, although Reuters reported this week that heat spikes wideness swathes of France have brought concerns well-nigh vineyard working conditions. Météo France recorded a upper of 42.7 degrees Celsius in Orange, in the Rhône Valley.

Mildew outbreaks in Bordeaux

Around 90% of Bordeaux vineyards were unauthentic by mildew to some extent, said the regional chamber of threshing in July.

‘I think it’s the strongest mildew wade in Bordeaux in a long time,’ said Simon Blanchard, oenologue and partner at Derenoncourt Consultants, set up by major wine consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt.

Merlot has been most affected, with white wine grapes not really hit and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec increasingly resistant, he said.

Damage has varied significantly between producers and locations. At the CIVB, Chteau said, ‘I have some winemakers telling me that they are going to do [a] normal yield and they won’t have any problem, and others saying that they are not going to harvest anything.’

It’s too soon to know what the impact on harvest size will be, he said in mid-August, with early picking for Crémant sparkling wines having only just begun.

Blanchard said vineyard management and resources have been particularly important in 2023, subtracting it has been expressly challenging for smaller-scale growers with relatively little money.

Alongside that, ‘it’s important to understand your terroir very well’, he said, explaining that humidity can vary between vineyard sites, well-expressed mildew risk.

Bordeaux mayor Pierre Hurmic visited winegrowers unauthentic by mildew in the Blaye zone this week, reported FranceBleu, and there have been calls for government aid.

Mildew may have widow to a precarious situation for some producers. Increasingly than 1,300 Bordeaux winegrowers reported stuff in financial difficulty older this year, and the region has been preparing to uncork a funded scheme to uproot virtually 9,500 hectares of vines to help cut a wine surplus.

Cautious optimism for Bordeaux 2023 quality

Fabien Teitgen, winemaker at Chteau Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Léognan, said he expected the estate’s Merlot yield to be virtually 40% lanugo in quantity, due to mildew. White grape varieties and Cabernet Sauvignon were not so immensely affected, with losses of virtually 10%.

Whilst any losses are unchangingly difficult, he said the team considered this an ok result, given that the manor is single-minded to organic vineyard management, and so avoids various chemical sprays.

‘We remain optimistic regarding the quality of this vintage,’ said Teitgen last week, subtracting the foliage looked healthy and weather conditions were favourable.

‘We are now at the eve of the start of the harvest of our whites. The grapes are starting to taste good, very aromatic, [with] only a few increasingly days of maturation [needed].’

Martin Krajewski, owner of Chteau Séraphine in Pomerol and Clos Cantenac in St-Emilion, said last week: ‘I did a tour of the vineyards yesterday and I am really surprised at how good it all looks, untied from the one parcel where we were immensely touched [by mildew]. Plane that looks ok now, just a much smaller yield coming in.’

He added, ‘I think 2023 will be remembered [as] a complicated year of extremes in frost, rain, sun, humidity and heat waves.’

There is still a long way to go, but Blanchard said he was optimistic well-nigh quality, citing favourable August weather and noting that mildew was mainly an issue in terms of quantity.

Picking for reds was set to take place virtually ‘classic’ dates, he said, with Merlot likely whence virtually 10 September and Cabernets later in the month and into October.

Nicolas Glumineau, MD of Chteau Pichon Comtesse in Pauillac, said Merlot picking would likely start virtually 11 September. For the reds in general, he added, ‘We have a trappy yield and we’ve worked a lot to protect it from mildew, but it’s all under control, plane if it’s 100% organic.’

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