Bordeaux 2018: ‘aggressive’ mildew but volumes normal

The 2018 vintage in Bordeaux suffered a little from localised hail and some “aggressive” mildew outbreaks but volumes are much better than last year.

After the terrible frosts last year which ripped through the region, volumes this year are projected to be back in line with the 10 year average.

This is despite some hail between May and July which hit around 10,000 hectares and powdery mildew which was a problem for many growers throughout the south of France this year.

Although the north of France basked in excellent weather and had a relatively easy vintage, in Bordeaux things were not always so simple.

March was extremely wet with 113mm of rain. May had next to no rain at all but two extremely heavy hailstorms on the 21 and 26 which hit 7,100ha in total: 5,500ha in Blaye, 1,200ha in the Médoc and 400ha in Entre-deux-Mers.

July was then one of the hottest months on record since 1945 but with large amounts of rain in the first part of the month and a final hailstorm on 15 July, which hit 2,000ha across Sauternes, the Médoc and Côtes de Bourg.

The heat and rain naturally combined to form rather too perfect conditions for powdery mildew which has led to “substantial harvest loss” according to the CIVB and left “very few plots unharmed”.

The pressure eased somewhat from mid-July with the return of dry and warm (occasionally very hot) weather and cool nights all the way through to September, which was much drier than usual.

Harvesting for the crémants and rosé wines began on 20 August and for many of the dry white wines on 24 August for Sauvignon Gris and then 22 September for the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

The earliest ripening plots of red grapes began on 17 September and harvesting became more widespread from 20-22 September.

The Cabernets were all largely harvested from late September to the early part of October and picking for sweet wines is currently underway.

The president of the CIVB, Allen Sichel, said: “The year 2018 didn’t give Bordeaux winemakers much time to breathe due to the weather conditions, which were extraordinary at times. “This new vintage will be unquestionably marked by all the energy exerted in caring for the vineyards.”

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