The Oenophiliac

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Chablis producers anticipate smaller harvest


Chablis producers are predicting the harvest could be down by around 20%, thanks to bad weather earlier in the growing season.

Although picking won’t start until the second half of September, the region’s winemakers are suffering with problems from mildew and millerandange, and are hopeful that temperatures will increase and the sun will shine between now and then.

Eric Szablowski, consultant oenologist and former winemaker at William Fevre, one of Chablis’ biggest domaines, said, the “very changeable” weather earlier in the season meant that “flowering took a long time”. With average temperatures up to 8C lower than usual for the time of year, he said that “disease had arrived very quickly”.

At the 30 ha Charly Nicolle estate at Fleys, Nicolle told Harpers he expected the harvest could be between 20 and 30% smaller than usual. Although he said it was difficult to predict at this early stage: “It will be a very late harvest, and small-yielding. There has been a lot of millerandange (small berries), so I think it will be very concentrated. We need some sun before the harvest,” he added.

Gérard Tremblay at the 36 ha Domaine Vincent Tremblay, said this year “could be a very good one for quality”. “The main month is September, if we have sun, it will be good. But we’ve had to spray and protect a lot because of disease pressure. It’s affected by so many things. In 2008 we didn’t have very good weather, but it was dry and cool, which concentrated the berries, making for a good year,” he said.

Matthieu Apffel, vineyard manager at Laroche which is converting its 90 ha estate to organic production, said the cold and rain in May meant mildew had been a problem. “It will be a very low yield – 10-15% lower than usual – but it’s too early to say,” predicted Apffel.

“It’s very humid now and there are very little chemical solutions to fight mildew, which is a big pressure – it’s all mechanical,” he added.

Matthieu Mangenot, estate manager at the 65-ha Château Long-Depaquit vineyard, owned by Albert Bichot, said the harvest would be “smaller for sure”, but that not every plot on the estate was affected equally. “There are still two months to go…”

Story by Gemma McKenna

Courtesy of Harpers Wine & Spirit Trades Review

 www.harpers.co.uk

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