Extreme Weather update in Bordeaux
Recently, Bordeaux was hit by a large and violent hailstorm. On the 26th May two hailstorms hit the city of Bordeaux and moved northwards towards the appellations of Bourg and Blaye. It finished wreaking havoc in the Cognac region. This follows on from the terrible frost damage sustained by the region last April.
A total of 7,100 hectares were affected, of which 3,400 were 80% destroyed. The hailstones were as big as eggs apparently and ripped branches off of vines. Not only is the flowering affected, but the damaged areas become susceptible to disease and mildew – so extra attention needs to be given to these vines.
Our vignerons at Chateau Monconseil Gazin in Blaye were very lucky indeed as this was an appellation very badly hit. The Baudets told us that whilst their vines were left relatively untouched, some of their neighbours have lost nearly everything. They feel incredibly lucky.
At Chateau Rousselle in the appellation of Cote de Bourg (as it happens, situated only a few hundred yards from Chateau Monconseil Gazin), around 10% of Vincent Lemaitres vines were destroyed, mostly a large parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 2014.
What can be done to combat hailstorms?
Vignerons can obtain insurance, but the premiums are very high and pay out can be hard to obtain. For many, this is not an option.
Vincent comments ‘last years (frost) episode has taught us that we only have to rely on our own resources and not to dream about possible aid and subsidies related to the damage. Moreover, insurance covering this type of damage is often too expensive…’
Vines can be protected using anti-hail nets. However, these are not permitted by the INAO (Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité) and other governing bodies. Some vignerons are trialling them to see how well they work and how practical they are. After last week’s episode, there will be more vignerons trialling these without doubt. They are expensive however and they can take up to 10 years to obtain a return on the investment.
So is the weather becoming more unpredictable?? Vincent believes there now seems to be more erratic weather to contend with. However, the incidence of very heavy storms such as in 2003, 2009, 2011 and 2013, thankfully remain relatively isolated events.