Some hot and humid weather was followed by electric storms on Tuesday 12th May at about four in the morning in Bordeaux and environs. Hail stones as large as golf stones ravaged the vineyards in St Emilion, Graves, Blaye and Margaux. The young buds, just becoming well established and in the areas worst hit the vines have been sliced off as if by a knife leaving in some cases only a stump of new growth on the old wood. Any leaves remaining have been slashed and lacerated which, if they recover, will have reduced potential to make sugar for the plant and eventual grapes. No-one knows what the effect will be on the ultimate yields. Conditions like this have not been seen for over twenty years.
With the continuing rain and inclement weather, sulphiting the vineyards to help heal the wounded vines is difficult. Buds that have been destroyed will not flower or bear fruit so yields will be reduced again this year in these areas. Not only will it affect this next harvest but possibly the next year too if the ‘cot’ bud that is left for the following year has been damaged too. Some producers have assurance protection against hail as it can strike at any time but not all. Producers were relieved that the frost prone period seemed to be behind them and 2009 yields would not be reduced due to frost. Little did they know what nature had up her sleeve. Fombrauge in St Christophe des Bardes is said to have lost a large part of their future yield being at the epicenter of the storms which swept across the eastern parts of St Emilion appellation.