For Merlot the rains that fell in torrents during Vinexpo (18, 20 June) was bad news. It meant that the Merlot grapes, which were in the middle of flowering, have suffered ‘millerandage’ some grapes are developing normally but some are retarded.
The dilema with this is that on the same bunch of grapes you have a big difference of development. At the time of harvesting these small green under-developed berries will cause big problems for the quality as these grapes will be unripe and reduced yield. Severe sorting will be critical this year and will favour the big boys who can afford a Tri-optic worth 150,000€.
With the cold weather up until the last few days (now its scorching at 34°C) and a great deal of wet weather too, the season is delayed for sure between two and three weeks. This means that the harvest will start around 14 October which is super-late. It brings the harvest into the risky autumn when the risk of storms and rainfall is very high. This is particularly bad news for the later ripening Cabernet Franc and even later Cabernet Sauvignon!
The difference with ‘coulure’ is that the under-developed grapes fall off just after flowering representing a sort of early green harvest which can be beneficial in concentrating the remaining berries (yields are reduced). Millerandage is detrimental to yield and quality.
The key is that the summer has finally arrived with th hot weather set to continue. There is a lot that can change over the next few weeks….but the essential has already been established during the flowering period. Fingers crossed for a hot and extended Indian Summer!