This is the one that all the “vignerons” in the Côte d’Or were dreading. After 3 consecutive years of hailstorms in the summer that have reduced yield from -30 to -80% depending on the village, the wine estates in Burgundy were hoping for a reprieve in 2014, to help replenish stocks that have been so weakened.
On Saturday 28th June at 5pm, a storm hit what I have come to call “death’s corridor” – from Aloxe Corton through Beaune to Pommard, Volnay, Monthelie and Meursault.
The vignerons were as prepared as possible having installed 30 silver iodide cloud formers in the vineyards ready to break the ice from the clouds. As fate would have it, this could only work against storms coming from the east, i.e. starting at Aloxe Corton (as they usually do). However the storm came from the south…
As if to make matters worse, another storm hit just before 6pm.
The Cote de Nuit was also hit, but to a lesser degree around Vougeot, Vosne Romanee and Chambolle Musigny.
So what does this mean for the Burgundy wine industry?
Well with stock down over the last 3 years and no older vintage wine in stock, the large number of small estates (no bigger than 25 acres, producing around 40,000 bottles), have no or little wine to sell and therefore no revenue to generate. One estate owner I spoke to in Pommard said that the 2013 vintage only yielded 9000 out of 450000 bottles.
Now we are likely to witness the “worse case scenario” of estates having to sell their best plots (vineyards) or even their estates! This means that we could be seeing the permanent change so dreaded in Burgundy – the end of the small family-run estates in profit of the bigger wine houses.
There could also be a loss of international clients, as importers cannot receive their allocation off fine Burgundy wine.
Today (Monday), wine industry specialists and local government ministers are meeting so see what emergency measures can be taken.