If all the French you know is ‘deja vu’, here’s your chance to use it. We are sad to report that, for the second year running, the Cote de Beaune has been pulverized by hail.
Last Tuesday, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, the skies opened over Pernand-Vergelesses and a violent summer storm ripped its way southward,shredding vineyards like machine gun fire from the southwest side of the Corton mountain, through Savigny-les Beaune, across the slopes above Beaune, on to Pommard, Volnay and Monthelie, and into the northern part of Meursault.
We are just now getting accurate damage assessments of damage and it ain’t pretty. Reports earlier in the week suggested that perhaps 80-90% of the vines in the sector had been affected. Talk was that not only would this have a serious impact on the 2013 harvest, but it would also, because of damage to the woody parts of the vines, severely affect 2014 as well.
We have asked our winemaker friends who work in this zone to let us know what they are seeing in their vines. And there is consistent confirmation of these early fears. Here is a digest of what they are telling us.
One of our Savigny les Beaune producers starts by saying ‘sad year 2013!’. ‘The situation in Savigny, you can call it catastrophic. Every part of our domain was hit. We will not harvest several of our premier cru vineyards in Savigny. And our parcel in Pommard has an 80% loss (just as it did last year). We figure that, in general, we have lost 50% of our 2013 production. Another winemaker said simply, ‘light a candle’.
A Monthelie producer tells us that the total surface area affected is incredible. Usually hailstorms are localized, like any summer storm. But this one came from the north, rare in this part of the world, and pounded the hills for a sustained 25 minutes. They lost 30-40% of their Monthelie production, but believe that there are domains much worse off. And some of the smaller producers may well have serious financial difficulties after an already difficult 2012.
Our other Monthelie domain says that the loss is enormous in Pommard, Volnay and Monthelie, 40-90% depending on the parcels. She says that she hopes all is well where we are…
In Beaune, one of our friends says it is very serious. A loss of 50-80% across his holdings. Damage to the leaves, he says, is so severe in places that the maturity of the harvest that remains will be slowed and stunted. But on a rare note of optimism, he says that at least it has been hot and dry since the storm, which will allow the damaged grapes to wither and fall.
One of our Pommard producers, with 61 harvests under his belt, is not so easily shocked. He says he has seen worse, but not much worse. His parcel of Beaune 1er Cru ‘Clos des Mouche’ lost 80%, he thinks. 50% in the Pommard ‘Charmots’. 20-40% elsewhere. He says he has seen 100% loss in the past, so he’s not complaining.