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Storms wreak havoc across the Medoc

Strong winds and heavy rainfall over the weekend wreaked devastation across much of the Medoc with Pauillac being the worst affected commune.

Iconic trees uprooted at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, credit: Hamish Wakes-Miller

The adverse weather conditions, between 11pm on Friday night and 2am Saturday morning, saw wind speeds reach up to 165km/hour and 60mm of rain fall within one hour.

The bell tower of Pauillac church was blown into a house 50 metres away, injuring a 71-year old inhabitant. Local chateaux have also been affected, with the famous bank of willow trees at Chateau Lafite-Rothschild largely uprooted, flag poles down at Cos d’Estournel and Pontet Canet, and the park at Chateau Fonbadet devastated.

Further down the Médoc, the oak tree in front of Chateau Palmer was also uprooted.

By Saturday afternoon, electricity was still out in some parts of Pauillac, causing potential issues with wine storage as outside temperatures climbed back upwards.

Both Guruad Larose and Pontet Canet have backup generators, but many other classified estates have no permanent generators on site. The local EDF branch confirmed that most electricity was back by Saturday night, but that the more remote areas may be without power until Monday or Tuesday.
Hamish Wakes-Miller, managing director of Bella Wine Tours, told decanter.com, ‘In parts of Pauillac, it was like a tornado had passed through. The only obvious vine damage was loss of foliage, it seems the trees took the brunt of it. Lucky really, as the hail canon at Gruaud Larose was ineffective as the electricity power-out cut the feed to the radar’.

‘The storm was shorter but more intense than the (last major storm) in 1999,’ Pauillac mayor Sébastien Hournau said on Saturday morning.

Over on the Right Bank, there were reports of hail falling in Fronsac and Lalande-de-Pomerol. ‘But nothing hugely serious,’ according to Bordeaux Wine Bureau president Bernard Farges.

Written by Jane Anson

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