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About Those 2007 Bordeaux Futures...

Nature giveth, and she taketh away. Just when we all thought that Global Warming might be making wine a little easier to make in Europe, the summer of 2007 comes along and reminds us that we can put a man on the moon, but we're not any better at predicting the weather more than about 7 days out.

In case you haven't been following the news, it's looking like the 2007 vintage in Bordeaux is going to be one of the worst in recent memory. Unseasonably cold and hard rains have decimated the grape crops, to current estimates of approximately 90% loss due to rain damage and subsequent mildew and rot. Just remember this when someone offers you 2007 Bordeaux futures. Apparently the issues are not confined to Bordeaux, having affected vineyards in both the Loire and the Rhone. Burgundy, apparently, is mostly fine for now.

While it's clear that the vintage is not a total failure at this point, more rain could certainly push things over the edge. However, should the weather stay sunny through August, some decent fruit may be produced, especially in those areas with lower humidity.

The implications of late season rains and their attendant mildew for winegrowers are myriad, but mostly they equal a lot of work and a lot of expense to salvage any usable fruit. Workers are generally required to make daily or even hourly passes through the vineyards to quickly cut off any clusters of grapes which show mildew or rot, as well as to manage the leaf canopy to ensure sun exposure to the damp grapes in the hopes of drying them to avoid mildew. Presumably there are also treatments like sulfur and other concoctions (provided you're not Biodynamic) to help prevent mildew and rot. No matter how you slice it as a grower, you're looking at spending more money, and getting fewer good grapes.

England too, has had its share of adversity this year. Most people still aren't used to thinking of Britain as a wine producing nation, but rising global temperatures have helped the quality of its wine production, the best of which appears to be some quite excellent sparkling wines. It's somewhat unclear how the torrential rains and flooding are affecting the harvest, there are some initial reports (that for the life of my I cannot seem to find the link to at the moment) that suggest it may be hard going for English winemakers this year as well.

All this on the heels of some awful news in the Northern Rhone and Alsace a couple of weeks ago. A tough year for wine in many places, and a good reminder of how blessed many regions (such as California) are with generally much less volatile weather.

Comments (6)

Jerry D. Murray wrote:
07.16.07 at 11:07 AM


Just a correction of sorts; Biodynamic producers also rely on Sulfur sprays to fight Mildew. They are also permitted to spray copper as well as all of the biological sprays available. In this regard they are no different than growers practicing Organic farming practices.

Alder wrote:
07.16.07 at 7:42 PM

Ah, thanks for the correction Jerry. Looks like th BioD folks are in luck.

Frederique wrote:
07.18.07 at 12:42 AM

Don't believe everything you read - Decanter's sensationalist (and irresponsible) headline has apparently succeeded in convincing people that a 90% loss due to mildew was possible ... Mildew occurs practically every year in every vineyard of the world and, as you note, is controlled every year through careful tending of the vines. That some vinegrowers are encountering problems this year is credible (although rainfall in south-western France has certainly not been "torrential") but, as someone working in the Bordeaux wine industry, I can assure you that if Decanter's "estimate" were remotely accurate, we would already be seeing people manifesting in the streets.

Jerry D. Murray wrote:
07.18.07 at 3:42 PM


Thank you for pointing this out to me. I have always held Bordeaux growers in high regard and was baffled at the absolute incompetence that would be necassary to lose so much crop to mildew. However if yo develop the problem early in the season it doesn't just go away, these growers are in for a long and fierce battle. Good luck to them.

Terry Hughes wrote:
07.19.07 at 6:04 PM

A propos of nothing, Italian producers are also suffering from unusually wet and humid weather. This 2007 doesn't look good anywhere in Europe, I think. Better stock up on 2005s.

Jean-Marc wrote:
07.22.07 at 1:24 PM

Dear Alder,

True is that, so far, it is a hard vintage.

But remember 2002 in south Rhône which was supposed to be the best 3 weeks before harvest time.

Mildew has made damages but it won't affect the quality when people are serious. It will lower the crop but this could actually turn into something good.

I think it would be wise to stop predicting about quality before the grapes are in the tanks.

Let those marketing guys masturbate their brain about it !

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