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Hail in Chablis vineyards adds to frost woes

A hailstorm has caused damage across several hundred hectares of Chablis vineyards less than a month after the whole Burgundy region was also hit by late spring frost.

Hail in Chablis

Friday 13 May proved unlucky for Chablis winemakers after a hailstorm hit around 400 hectares (ha) in the area.

It comes just two weeks after frost damaged vines across Burgundy, including some of those in Chablis, and adds to a sense of foreboding about the potential size of the 2016 harvest.

From Chablis to Ligny-le-Châtel, the hailstorm crossed the north of the Chablis vineyard area from west to east causing massive damage to vineyards.

Approximately 400 hectares were affected by hail. ‘With 20% of vineyards damaged by frost and now 10% by hail, this is disastrous for a winemaker,’ Frédéric Gueguen, winemaker in Préhy and president of the Fédération de Défense de l’appellation Chablis, told Decanter.com.

Initial estimates suggest some vineyards saw 80% to 100% of their prospective 2016 crop destroyed.

But, it was a mixed picture, as if often the case with the impact of extreme weather.

‘The impact to in the Grands Crus is limited,’ said Benoit Drouin of Domaine Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin. ‘A part of Vaillons and Séchets were affected by hail, but what is most worrying is the accumulated frost and hail.’

Several growers and winemakers were pessimistic about the future. ‘The vines are stressed, and the flowering will be crucial for us,’ said Drouin. ‘With these problems, 2016 will be very difficult, and 2017 seems to be problematic too.’

Editing by Chris Mercer

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