The 2008 Burgundy harvest will be smaller than last year, following a poor fruit set and hailstorms in the region.

Although insiders say it is too early to judge the quality of the vintage, regional trade body, the BIVB, said fruit set had been adversely affected by a cold and wet spring.

In early summer, further destruction throughout the region was caused by two hailstorms. The first, which fell in the early hours of 26 July, destroyed up to 60% of fruit in some vineyards of the Cote d’Or area. The second swept through Burgundy on 7 August and although the BIVB said the Macon area was ‘severely’ hit, it has yet to confirm the level of damage.

Christine Monamy, who monitors weather conditions for the BIVB, said that the Chablis region was the least affected by the storms.

The damage appears to be very localised, however. A spokeswoman for Michel Gros, head of the presitigous Vosne-Romanee appellation, said the appellation had not suffered hail damage.

Jacques Seysses, of Domaine Dujac in Gevrey-Chambertin, also said he was ‘not aware’ of any hailstorms affecting his vineyards but that Marsannay, bordering the town of Dijon at the very north of the Cote d’Or, had been hit.

Like many areas in France, the region’s winegrowers have also had to battle outbreaks of mildew, and deal with fluctuating weather in the spring and summer.

Despite the inclement weather, the forecast for the region is good, and warm weather is expected to move in next week.

The harvest in the region is due to begin around 15–24 September – ‘classic’ timing for a Burgundy vintage, Monamy told decanter.com. She would not comment on the potential quality of the vintage.

‘You’ve got to be an optimist,’ she said. ‘Today, it’s difficult to say. If the good weather holds like they say it will, we’ve got a good base to work from. But it’s easily one month until the vintage begins.’

Written by Oliver Styles