The Bordeaux 2018 vintage is being partly shaped by a combination of storms, heat and mildew affecting vineyards, even though grapes in good condition still have time to achieve full ripeness in the two-and-a-half months remaining of the growing season.
Olivier Dauga, wine consultant. Photo: Guy Collins
That's according to Olivier Dauga, a wine consultant based in the city who works with growers around Bordeaux, elsewhere in France and internationally, including Australia and Ukraine.
``We have had a lot of heat and a lot of rain,'' he said in an interview during a visit to London this week. The 2018 vintage ``will be very complicated.''
Storms on July 4 hit parts of the Bordeaux region, damaging some vines, while mildew, resulting from the combination of moisture and heat, ``has destroyed whole parcels'' of vines, he said. According to the website infoclimat.fr, 14 millimeters (0.6 inches) of rain fell that day at Bordeaux Merignac airport, with winds gusting up to 90 kilometers (56 miles) an hour.
A second wave of storms hit Bordeaux over the past 48 hours, with 17 millimeters of rain falling both yesterday and today and winds gusting up to 122 kilometers an hour, according infoclimat.fr.
Storm damage this month comes on top of hail on May 26 which hit producers in the Cotes de Bourg region along the eastern shore of the Gironde estuary on May 26. And this year's unstable weather patterns follow hard on the heels of the frosts of April 2017, the worst to hit the region in a quarter century.
``It's not at all like 2003,'' he said, a reference to a year which is etched in French memory with a major heatwave across broad swathes of the country.
He said lower quantities of wine will be produced in Bordeaux this year as a result, while adding that favorable weather over the next two months would still enable a high-quality vintage to be made.
He said the issue is not confined to Bordeaux, with mildew also a problem in areas of Provence. ``There's no wind in the south,'' he said.
Dauga set up his consultancy in 2000, working alternately in Bordeaux and Australia, a highly unusual move for a Bordelais at the time. Prior to that he had worked at Chateau Sociando-Mallet, Chateau La Tour Carnet and Chateau Rollan de By. His website is olivierdauga.com.
His philosophy is oriented towards respect for the environment of the vineyard, including its flora and fauna. ``The first idea is to pay attention to everything that is around'' he said. ``We work to protect the environment.''
He also said that his time in Australia had given valuable insight into commercial wine-growing. ``I encourage people to make wine that is adapted to the market,'' he said. ``The Australians study the market, then make the wine.''
Growers Dauga works with in France include Chateau Gros Caillou in Saint Emilion and the Univitis Cooperative.