At last the sun is shining in Bordeaux after a very wet spring. The vines are about two weeks behind normal with the lack of sun and wet conditions but so far the infant light green leaves are healthy and growing. Lot of greenery and vegetation which will be trimmed back in time during ‘le rognage’.
Most of the soil is gorged with water however so all it will take is a hot, sticky few days and mildew may start. This forms a white powder on the underneath of the leaf. This small mushroom feeds on vegetation (and grapes later in the year) reducing the vine’s ability to photosynthesize, produce sugars and feed itself. Leaves dry out if left too long. It is important to be vigilant and spray with fungicides before the vine suffers from the effects of this fungus.
What is next in the vine’s life?
Vines have all been pruned some time ago (in advance of the sap coming up from the vine’s roots), buds have burst and crunched up leaves like the tight hands of a newborn have slowly unfurled to reveal light green and pink hues. The next most important phase of the vine’s life will be the flowering which happens in June. The period of flowering from the onset through to the end helps to indicate the date of harvest and sometimes how uniform the maturing of the grapes will be. Traditionally this was said to be 100 days from the start. With later harvesting to benefit from riper tannins, this is now sometimes stretched to 115 days depending on the year’s climate conditions and the vine’s terroir.
The potential of the year, in terms of how many grape bunches can be produced, is actually set during the summer of the year before. The effects of the wet and mild summer of 2007 is not only having its effect on the wines produced in the autumn of 2007 but also 2008! Let us hope that we do not have a repeat of last year and hope for 2008 to be a sunnier one. The sun is still shining outside so keeping fingers crossed…
2008 Poor Flowering: Cold periods during the flowering period meant that flower setting was poor and not uniform. Vines suffered from ‘coulure’ and ‘millerandage’ which serves as a natural and early ‘green harvest’. Could reduce yields somewhat.