Hail storms : will there be a 2016 Chablis?
A little more than a week ago, very severe weather, including hailstorms, caused serious damage over the weekend in some French wine-producing regions, notably Cognac where up to 8 percent of the vineyard has been badly damaged, according to the area’s producers.
The latest outburst from the skies marks a tough beginning to the 2016 growing season and one of the yelds that has endured the worst damage was the Chablis, bringing even vintners to question the future of the 2016 vintage. Extensive damage to vineyards was noted in the communes of Courgis, Préhy and Chichée. Some areas suffered between 80% to 100% damage in their vineyards. The hailstorms were the second one to affect the area in less than two weeks.
“These hail bursts ravaged many vineyards, making future harvests uncertain or impossible,” FNSEA (Fédération nationale des syndicats d’exploitants agricoles), France’s largest farm union,expressed in a statement. French agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll, declared he had “mobilized the state’s full resources to assess damage and find a way to help those affected“. The event has been branded catastrophic.
Some Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards were affected when rain and hail forced the winemakers to delay spraying sulphur or comfrey on the leaves in the vineyards, which also increased the risk of mildew.
Some 1.1 inches of rain and nearly 5.9 inches of hail fell in 15 minutes on affected areas. Some wine producers reported hailstones the size of a quail egg.
For Chablis it is the third blow this year after frosts in April and a hailstorm on April 13.
The storms will reduce the 2016 harvest but also have an impact on future harvests in all affected regions.
In September 2015 the Chablis harvests were also hit by hail but as it came in later in the season, the vignerons salvaged much of it by hastening the harvest.
Some observers compared this event to the storms that occurred in May 1998, destroying more than 50% of the grapes involved in the Grand Crus.
It is still too early to know how much these events will affect the vintage and most Chablis experts don’t want to announce anything yet, but were are watching the situation and will report any information that seems pertinent to the Alfred customers.