Bordeaux 2012 Harvest . . . Bring Me Sunshine

It seems that Bordeaux and its vineyards have been enjoying some sunshine with temperatures going up over 36ºC last week. The 2012 harvest in France is expected to be down in general this year as warm overcast and rainy days earlier in the year have encouraged both downy and powdery mildew as well as grey rot.

This has meant that vineyard managers have had to keep a wary eye on the vines and quite a bit of spraying has been necessary. However the rain was welcomed after a dry winter and now the sun is out just when needed so all seems to be going to plan in Bordeaux.

La Revue du Vin de France has reported that according to forecasts by the SSP (Service of Statistics and Forecasting), the 2012 wine harvest is expected to be 13% less than last year at an estimated 44.1 million hectolitres.

The main vineyards affected by the decline in production are Champagne (- 26% over the previous five years), Burgundy (- 10%), the Loire Valley (- 9%), Jura (- 5 %) and Charente (- 5%).

In Champagne, the 2012 harvest is estimated at 2, 121 million hectolitres, down 26% from 2011. The report says the main culprits for the lower figures are frost, powdery mildew and downy mildew. The harvest is a week late compared to the average of the last decade and there are worries about coulure (failure of the grapes to develop after flowering).

The Jura has also been badly affected by fungal diseases and the Agreste (Institute of Agricultural Statistics) expects a harvest down 22% from 2011.

Jancis Robinson has reported that in the Rhone, hail, millerandage and coulure have affected the total potential crop, which may be down by 35% on 2011 in certain regions.

Corsica is the only vineyard that is the exception with the island expecting a harvest of 9% higher than in 2011 according to the SSP (10% over the previous five years).

In Bordeaux the Merlot has been affected by the mildews and coulure. The winter was dry and March was warm, April was cool being -1.4ºC lower than normal maximum temperatures.

This meant that bud break was around 2 weeks later than in 2011. The first half of May saw temperatures increase but the latter half saw them drop around 5ºC along with high rainfall.

This continued into early June with the average temperature around 20ºC which meant that flowering was about 10 days later than the average of the last 20 years according to Bordeaux Raisins. The formation of grapes has been patchy with bunches developing at different speeds within the same vineyard.

So far weather conditions have been slightly cooler than the last two vintages and the 2012 harvest is later than in 2011 and 2010. The weather forecast for the next 2 weeks looks as if the sun is going to stay out over Bordeaux with Saturday 18th August being expected to reach temperatures of 37ºC!

It looks as if the 2012 vintage is going to be similar to the 2007, which is a good thing in my book. There will plenty of good wines available to drink, maybe some superb ones, and if 2012 is not heralded as another Bordelaise ‘vintage of the century’ then hopefully the wines will be priced sensibly so that all of us can enjoy them.

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