For the past ten days or so the vineyards of Bordeaux have experienced perfect flowering conditions (opposite of 2013 when a torrential tropical downpour dashed all hopes for the vintage). Nights have been cold so there has been some coulure (with the baby grapes falling off, lessening yield but causing a very early green harvest).
But all is apparently about to change with hail storms planned for this evenings. The Bordeaux wine producers have their fingers’ crossed. They have predicted hail the size of eggs, the amount of rain that normally will fall in a month and winds of over 100 km/hr.
Lets hope they are wrong as it will have a devastating effect on the quality and quantity of 2014.
The storms came on 9th June with hail the size of eggs damaging vines in the Cognac region and only the most northern part of the Medoc around St Yzan and Lesparre, the Médoc appellation where damage was very heavy which will impact this year’s crop and next. These properties are mostly family-owned and sell their wines for 15€ per bottle on average. Many will go bankrupt.
Bordeaux’s elite châteaux just a few kilometres south in the Haut Medoc around St Estephe and Pauillac were spared this time.
Each potential bunch of grapes has the four or so male stamen with flowers around the female part with needs to be fertilised with their pollen. Once the fertilization has been done the female seed will start to grow and create a grape in the bunch of grapes (you can see a future grap on the hand here). This is the Merlot grape which is the first to flower and from mid-flowering, the first to become ripe some 115 days later. The vines self-pollinate and do not need bees just sunny weather and ideally a little Wind.