French vines “on fire” to cope with frost

French vines “on fire” to cope with frost
French vines “on fire” to cope with frost

Negative temperatures having reached in places -5 degrees in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday made fear in several appellations of Bordeaux, in the south-west of France, a “bitter” observation of the impact of the frost on the vineyard.



AFP

Interprofessional as wine unions stressed that it was Wednesday too early to take stock of the impact on the harvest, especially as negative temperatures were still expected for the night from Wednesday to Thursday, and possibly next week.

The Graves, Entre-deux-Mers, Sud-Gironde (Sauternes and Barsac), the Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux in particular were affected, according to the first returns, but it is difficult to know yet in what proportions told AFP a spokesperson for the Interprofessional Council for Bordeaux Wine (CIVB).

“It’s a bit of a disaster, there are no spared areas” in our appellation, said Mayeul L’Huillier, director of the Syndicat des vins de Graves, even though a number of wine growers still had to inspect the plots. “We have to see how nature will react, also see the impact of other frost episodes” to come, he added.



AFP

In the Barsac appellation (sweet), “between 50 and 90% of the properties have undoubtedly been affected”, estimated Frédéric Nivelle, technical director of Château-Climens, premier grand cru classé where the weather station recorded -3.5 degrees at the end of the night.

During the night, however, many wine growers deployed well-tried means of fighting against frost – candles between the vines, burnt straw, hot air blowers – and still had to do this the following night. “You can gain a few tenths of a degree, but when it reaches -5 -6, you can’t do much,” conceded Mr. L’Huillier.


However, the impact should not be “not as catastrophic as in 2017”, when the frost episode was much later, at the very end of April, hitting out buds and more ripe by three additional weeks, underlines the CIVB. Higher humidity was then an aggravating factor.



AFP

That year, one in five winegrowers in Bordeaux had lost more than 70% of their harvest, according to figures from the Chamber of Agriculture. On average, the properties of the Sauternes-Barsac appellation had lost 50%.

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