Chateau Carbonnieux in Pessac Leognan is due to begin picking its Sauvignon Blanc grapes at the end of this week after a 'roller-coaster' season of highs and lows.
A cold start to the growing season, and dry weather combined with cool nights in August, have meant that most vineyards are around a week behind schedule.
For most properties the white grape harvest will begin next week, with the Sauvignon Blanc at Chateau Margaux on schedule for sometime between September 10 and 20.
Carbonnieux owner Eric Perrin told decanter.com, ‘The yield will be lower than in 2009, but we are very happy with the quality. Potential alcohol looks to be around 12.5 at the moment.
He added that the last ‘serious’ rain fell on July 12. ‘Lovely fresh evenings combined with a dry summer means we are feeling very optimistic.’
However, across the region there are concerns about lack of rain, and also the effects of poor fruit set at the start of the season.
John Salvi MW, author of the Bordeaux Weather Report, said the 2010 growing season was ‘a roller-coaster’.
‘Record cold in May, until 16 July only 3.8mm of rain during the preceding 28 days, huge spells of heat up to 35.8 degrees, drought for almost 30 days; everything you can think of.
‘August has been dry but with fewer days over 30 degrees than July. And there is no use trying to deny that there was significant coulure (poor fruit set), and that where there was Merlot, there was even more coulure. Careful grape sorting will be key.‘
According to Meteo France, up to the third week of August rainfall has been under half of the 30-year-average of 60mm for the month.
This has meant that many vineyards, especially those with young vines, are showing signs of drought and stress. However, rain has threatened with plenty of cloud cover, meaning total sunshine hours reached only 155 hours by August 20. The 30-year average for August is 240 hours.
‘August has been jumpy weather-wise,’ said Salvi. He added, ‘no doubt the Bordelais will proclaim that September is the miracle month, as seems to be the fashion now.’
Written by Jane Anson