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Burgundy Storm Report – Gambal on Damage

August 15, 2013

Burgundy Storm Report

Bunches turning brown

The French government’s provisional damage estimate is between 1,700 and 2,000 hectares were affected, 35-40% percent of the Côte de Beaune’s vineyards in its recent storms. In an email note I received from American cum Bourgogne vigneron Alex Gambal there is no one ‘right’ number to apply to the storms that have recently damaged Burgundy’s vineyards, that there are a number of factors which have come to play such as vine orientation–N-S or E-W, whether the vines had recently been trimmed–if not then the canopies would have acted, at least in part, as shields, whether or not the vines been de-leafed for aeration–if so then there was greater exposure to the hail, and where in any village was the parcel was located as there is great variation in the damage due to specific location.

“I spoke to my assurer (insurance agent) right before I did a tour of the vines and this is what he related,” Gambal wrote.

Maximum damage/loss of grapes:

Base of Aloxe: 30%
Corton Charlemagne facing south and west: 60-70%
Savigny: 60%
Chorey: 45%
Beaune: 60% to as much as 80%
Pommard: 70-80%
Volnay 50-60%

“After we toured the vines and saw many winemakers doing the same thing I can relate the following about my vines.”

Burgundy Storm Report 2

One berry split by the hail.

Gambal’s vines were damaged:

Chorey: 15-25%
Savigny: 30-40%
Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 4 parcels: 25-40%
Bourgogne Chardonnay: 50% at least??? “Here we’d de-leafed.”

Gambal added that, “Thierry Matrot from Meursault said his Volnay Santenots suffered a 25% loss.”

He went on to say that “it appears that there was a wall of water and rain from just north of Meursault to the south and west of Corton Charlemagne and Pernand Vergelesses. It is unusual that the front was this big. Someone who was biking said the storm looked like the black smoke on the TV show Lost. Usually storms here are more localized.” He claims that the most severe damage appears on the higher parts of the southern Beaune vineyard–Clos des Mouches, Aigrots, Avaux, Teurons then on to Pommard Pezerolles and Pommard Noizins, and that Volnay 1er Cru in general and in particular its main slope of Champans sustained 50% or more damage. The northern Savigny village vineyards and 1er Crus in the Lavieres area were also hard hit.

Burgundy Storm Report 3

Rainfall at picnic table in Volnay

“Corton Charlemagne’s west side of Pernand was also hit very hard. I already have received cancellations of grape purchases–no Charlemagne in 2013 for ‘Chez Gambal’!”

The differences in rainfall which occurred in 1.5 hours staggered him; 2.25in. in Volnay, 1.75in. in Pommard, a bit more than .4in. in Monthelie just behind Volnay; “Now this is crazy–just drops fell in the Côte de Nuits!,” he exclaimed.

Gambal said that work will continue in the vines to dry out the damaged grapes and to limit mildew. “It is early enough in the season where the damaged grapes should dry out and fall off or can be removed at harvest by the destemmers.”

What have you heard about the Burgundy Storms?  What do you think the impact will be for the vintage?

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