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Bordeaux puts first gloss on 2008

Putting a brave face on predictions for the harvest the Bordeaux wine bureau (CIVB) is comparing 2008 to 1988 – ‘a drier than usual year’.

Yields are down on 2007, and a rainy start to September further disrupted what has been a difficult growing season.

Rain continued until September 10, but sunshine returned this week – with more sunshine hours in five days from September 11 to 15 than had been seen in the previous ten days.

The CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Bureau) issued a press release last week comparing the vintage to 1988 in terms of temperatures and rainfall – but the reaction to this was sceptical.

John Salvi MW, who writes the monthly Bordeaux Weather Report, told decanter.com, ‘Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been good. August was a terrible month and early September was far from wonderful, with Merlot being affected more badly than Cabernet Sauvignon.

‘The situation yet again this year is that those who can afford to treat their vines will have got away with it, and the rest will have suffered enormously.’

Michael Broadbent, in Vintage Wine, describes the 1988 vintage as ‘the first of a trio of very good vintages…the spring of 88 was more than usually wet…the summer, from July to September, was drier than usual.’

This year, according to the meteorological office in Merignac, Bordeaux suffered eight storms in August, and had 17 days of rain, meaning mildew has been a problem once again. Night-time temperatures reached as low as 11ºC, without reaching 20ºC once.

But producers are cautiously optimistic about the current fine weather.

Jean Luc Thunevin, negociant and owner of Chateau Valandraud, said, ‘If the weather continues like this for the next three weeks, we will be calling 2008 the miracle vintage.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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