Bordeaux Harvest 2013 – is there hope?

Harvest 2013 - is there hope?

Cabernet Grapes turning red in the warm gravelly soils of St Estephe (Lafon-Rochet).

Merlot grapes at the beginning of véraison in St Emilion
Merlot grapes at the beginning of véraison in St Emilion

We have never experienced these difficult growing conditions before (cold, wet spring, rain at flowering, storms, hail – see earlier articles). Due to the late start the entire growing season has been delayed by at least two weeks which brings harvest into the changeable Autumn weather with its risk of rain and storm.

Véraison (when the grapes turn from green to purple) has happened very quickly in the sunny weather so this must be a good sign!?

Date of Harvest 2013 Bordeaux
The date of harvest in St Emilion will be around 10th October (45 days from mid veraison), around the 4th in the drier, warmer soils of Pomerol and Figeac. The Merlots on the Left Bank will be around this date too. The plateau of St Emilion will be around mid October

2013 Sunny Days and cool Nights

Looking on the bright side, if the sunshine continues (and it is forecast to) and with the much lower yields perhaps 2013 could be a small but very concentrated vintage. So far July and August have been ideal with warm sunny days (28°C average) and cool nights giving a large thermic difference which aids the production of aromas and purity of flavours.

Reduced Yields on the Merlot

The yields of particularly the Merlot which were badly affected by millerandage (small green berries) and coulure (aborted berries). The Cabernet bunches look better but still a little affected by the rain. Yields will be higher here but as it ripens later it will most at risk from Autumn rains and storms and prehaps will have to be harvested before completely ripe.

2013 more Expensive Prices for the Classed Growths

The classed growths will be able to increase prices to compensate. The smaller producers will not and will have to contend with fewer bottles to sell at their usual price.

What 2013 needs

It dépends on the continuing sunshine from now  late into the autumn (until at least end October). Cabernet will be the winner this year if this is the case.

The new foilage appearing has been attacked by Mildew which needs treating (cutting ‘rognage’ and spraying) to ensure that it does not spread to the older leaves and grapes. We need the leaves to function (photosynthesis) until late into the Autumn so they need to be in good shape.

The main challenge this year is the many green aborted berries particularly int he Merlot bunches. If they go into the vats they will add green unripe flavours to the wine. Having a tri-optic sorting machine will help this year. At 180,000€ this is only an option for the big boys. For the smaller Producer it will mean all hands at work! There is still a long way to go and 2013 has not finished presenting its challenges to the wine Producer.

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