Brief but heavy storms have failed to dampen Bordeaux winemakers' optimism for the 2014 red wine harvest, as figures show producers across France plan to increase yields to compensate for shortfalls last year.

Bordeaux’s 2014 harvest gets underway. Image credit: Bordeaux Wines

Up to 17mm of rain fell across Bordeaux on Wednesday night (17 September). A Small amount of hail fell on Entre-Deux-Mers on Thursday afternoon, but no significant damage was reported.

Bordeaux has otherwise enjoyed some of its hottest days of the year in the past couple of weeks, and the Merlot harvest is due to begin as planned, starting largely next week.

Temperatures on Thursday morning hit around 18 degrees celsius by 10am, said consultant Antoine Medeville, of Oenoconseil.

‘The soil was already drying out. Forecasts of localised storms for next week might be more troublesome, but for now optimism remains for an abundant and good quality harvest,’ he told Decanter.com.

Officials expect Bordeaux’s 2014 harvest to be up to 50% larger than the weather-hit 2013 vintage.

The sparkling wine harvest for cremant Bordeaux is already finished, and most Sauvignon Blanc is finishing up, with Semillon fully underway in the dry white regions. In Sauternes and Barsac, Aline Baly of Chateau Coutet said September has been an ideal combination of mist and heat.

In the Medoc, Chateau Cos d’Estournel plans to start picking merlot around 25 September, while fellow Saint Estephe estate Chateau Montrose began picking its young merlot vines on 15 September for the earliest-ripening terroirs.

‘This year the flowering was quick and even, and a warm and sunny September has meant that these early-ripening soils are now perfect for harvesting to ensure we keep the aromatic freshness of the grapes,’ said director Herve Berland.

Vignobles Dourthe expects to begin picking its red grapes at Chateau La Garde and Chateau Rahoul in Pessac Leognan and Graves between 22 to 27 September and are reporting ‘lots of colour and healthy grapes,’ according to technical director Frederic Bonnaffous.

Producers across many parts of France have been hoping for a bigger harvest this year to cover 2013 shortfalls. The country’s National Institute of Appellations (INAO) said producers have requested permission to raise yields above official appellation limits in some areas.

Bordeaux 2014