As the Bordeaux “Primeurs” approach (first week of April) here is a recap of the weather conditions experienced to produce what is already being called the vintage of the century> Need to wait for the world’s trade and press including Parker’s verdicts of what they find in the glass……
Yields for sure are small again this year particularly for those affected by the hail. For prices we will have to wait until May/June and who knows…
“Weather conditions this year have been particularly favourable for the vine’s growth cycle and the grapes’ ripening process.”
The months of July and August saw high temperatures and a generous amount of sunshine. This ﬁne weather continued into September, with an alternation between cool nights and warm daytime temperatures, which encouraged a concentration of aromas and an increase in anthocyanins.
The grapes ripened ideally and harvests dates are now being staggered. Crops being gathered are perfectly healthy.
We should keep in mind that hailstorms during the month of March caused signiﬁcant damage to 19,000 hectares of vines (15% of the total Bordeaux winegrowing region). The extent of this damage varied considerably from one plot to another in vineyards, but the result is a decrease in production.
See blog “Hail hits vineyards in Bordeaux”
Dry white wines
Harvests of white Sauvignon grapes began on 27th August in the earliest-ripening areas. In September harvesting of this variety became widespread and continued afterwards with the Sémillon variety. Harvests for dry whites are now ﬁnished.
The berries are intensely aromatic, full of ﬂavour, showing excellent concentration in sugar; the pips are crunchy and the skins appear to have marvellous colour potential (anthocyanan levels are high). Acidity levels are low; this is an indication of excellent ripeness.
Sweet white wines
Gathered by successive stages of manual sorting on the vine, harvests of grapes for sweet white wines have barely begun. Weather conditions were ideal for these grapes that undergo the inﬂuence of an extremely speciﬁc micro-climate. Humidity, in the form of early-morning
mists, encourages the work of the botrytis cinerea fungus (noble rot), a vital factor for producing these wines. Very warm daytime temperatures dry out the grapes and concentrate all their ﬂavours. The grapes express remarkable aromatic potential.
Weather Conditions (source Meteo France)
March : a generous amount of sunshine, temperatures slightly above average and rainfall levels less than half the average of the past 30 years. In the vineyards: budburst (when the buds open and small leaves appear) began at the end of the month. Sunshine 220.35 hours, rainfall 31mm, temperature 12.4C.
April: a mild month, particularly rainy, with a lack of sunshine. Sunshine 235 hours, rainfall 78.4mm, temperature 10.1C.
May: ﬁne weather, with summery temperatures and an excellent amount of sunshine; there was, however, a slight lack of rainfall. Violent hailstorms occurred on 11th, 13th and 25th May. No winegrowing
area of the Bordeaux region was spared (Médoc, Graves, Entre-deux-Mers,Saint-Emilion, Blaye, Bourg, Premières Côtes). In the vineyards: at the end of May, ﬂowering begins. Early and swift, it
becomes widespread at the beginning of the month of June. Sunshine 159.35 hours, rainfall 115.8mm, temperature 17.3C.
June: a dry, warm month, with a remarkable amount of sunshine and temperatures 2 degrees higher than the average of the past 30 years. In the vineyards: on 15th June ﬂowering had ﬁnished in the earliest areas. This is the period of berry setting (fertilised ﬂowers turn into tiny grape berries). Sunshine 293 hours, rainfall 75mm, temperature 20.3C.
July: a warm month (temperatures slightly above average) and a generous amount of sunshine.In the vineyards: beginning of the véraison period. The berries swell and grape skins begin to change
colour. Sunshine 262.31 hours, rainfall 46.6mm, temperature 21.5C.
August: extremely good weather, warm and sunny (+ 27 hours of sunshine). There was a slight lack of
rainfall compared with the average of the past 30 years. In the vineyards: ripening is encouraged by excellent weather conditions. Sunshine 270.34 hours (30 year average 242.55 hours). Rainfall 23mm (30 year average 59.5mm). Temperature 22.3 degrees C (30 year average 20.9)
September: a second month of August! Temperatures are slightly above the average of the past 30 years. There is a lack of rainfall, but an extraordinary amount of sunshine (+ 50 hours). In the vineyards: it’s time for the ﬁrst harvests to begin. Sunshine 233.49 hours (30 year average 182.49 hours). rainfall 48.6mm (30 year average 90.3mm). temp average 19.2 degrees C (30 year average 18.1).
According to statistics from Meteo France in Merignac, Bordeaux, the 2009 vintage has been above average so far in both sunshine and temperature.
May 253 hours of sunshine, against 30 year average of 220 hours
June 300 hours of sun against 30 year average of 225 hours
July, 263 hours of sunshine against a 30-year average of 243 hours
In August, up to 28th of the month already at 220 hours, with average for whole 31 days usually 240 hours, so at very least will be average, probably slightly above average.
May 17.3°C against a 30-year average of 15.4°C
June 20.3°C against a 30-year average of 18.3°C
July 21.5°C against a 30-year average of 20.8°C.
With four days still remaining in August, the average temperature has been 22.6°C, against a 30 year average of 20.9°C.
May 78mm, against 30 year average of 84mm
June 75mm against 30 year average of 64mm (but this fell in storms, so affected isolated areas in short bursts).
July 46mm, against 30 year average of 54mm.
Rainfall in August has so far (up to Aug 28) been just 20mm, against a 30 year average of 60mm.