The 2017 Vintage

First Report

May 1st 2017

The beginning of the year followed on from December 2016: cold but dry. February was warmer and wetter and March really quite sunny and dry, but cold at nights. Nevertheless by Easter the vines were two weeks ahead of schedule. There was intermittent rain in April but quite often the threat of frost. The night of the 19th saw damage in Chablis, though mainly in the lower-lying vineyards in the north of the region, as well as in Bouzeron. There was more frost damage, this time in the Côte d'Or, in the following week. The Côte de Beaune was more touched than the Côte de Nuits, particularly in Saint-Aubin. With extensive burning of hay bales, none of the damage was as bad as in the previous year, nor as bad as in Chablis, but annoying nonetheless.

In the meanwhile, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Burgundy has geared itself up to produce a more effective way of counter-acting the effects of hail damage. More or less the whole region is now equipped, it is said - it had been more intermittent hitherto - with the ability to shoot silver nitrate into potentially hail bearing clouds. With hail damage having affected Burgundy in most recent vintages (only 2015 being spared) let us hope these machines deliver the goods. On the other hand, there are two negatives. Firstly bio-dynamic vineyard producers will not be keen on silver nitrate crystals falling onto their vineyards. Secondly the hail storms come from all sorts of directions. How flexible can these guns be? There is no point in having several expensive machines facing south-east when the hail is coming from the south-west.