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Hail hits Chablis on wine harvest eve

A hail storm has badly affected vineyards in parts of Chablis and several neighbouring Burgundy appellations days before the 2015 wine harvest is due to start.

Just when Burgundy winemakers dared to hope for the first hail free growing season for several years, storms arrived during the evening of Monday 31 and early hours of 1 September.

Early estimates suggest 100 hectares have been affected in Chablis, around 2% of the AOC Chablis vineyard, with premier cru vines worse hit than grands crus.

There is now likely to be a rush to pick grapes from damaged vines to avoid the prospect of rot.

Michel Laroche, of Domaine d’Henri, told Decanter.com that the southeast parts of AOC Chablis, around Clos, Blanchot, Chapelot and Bréchain, have been badly hit.

‘The vines that have been hailed upon need to be harvested from tomorrow until the end of the week to avoid the threat of rot,’ Laroche said, who has seen hail on around three hectares of his own vines.

‘Happily they are already at good levels of maturity and the weather forecast for the rest of the week is fairly good, with a northerly wind that will help dry out the grapes.’

Damien Leclerc, the director of La Chablisiene cooperative in Chablis, said some parts of the Montée de Tonnerre were damaged, but the Mont de Milieu fared better.

Neighbouring appellation Irancy appears to have been worst affected of all in the area, but efforts to assess damage have been hampered by heavy downpours of rain of up to 100m. Chitry and Saint-Bris appellations were also hit.

‘There is still some harvest left,’ Thierry Richoux, of Domaine Thierry Richoux, told French journalists. ‘But it’s a shame, as it was looking so good. And as acidity is already pretty low, we need to move quickly now’.

Editing by Ellie Douglas and Chris Mercer.

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