Ditton Wine Traders’ fine wine blog
16 February 2011Bordeaux en primeur 2010: the weather
This report was originally posted on the Liv-ex blog. Gavin has kindly allowed us to post this excellent report on the 2010 weather. Gavin is a local winegrower in Bordeaux. He has been writing the annual Bordeaux "en primeur report" for Harpers Wine & Spirit magazine. Gavin has also tasted all the top wines from Bordeaux en primeur for 10 years and has been following these up in bottle. Do check out his blog for lots of excellent, factual information.
The en primeur tasting week will be the first week of April. It is still a good 3 months away before the campaign really starts going and as such, it may be a tat early to start writing about 2010. On the other hand, media coverage is likely to be hotting up and invariably, there will be a lot of speculation on the quality of the vintage. So that you can form your own opinion on this matter, we wanted to share Gavin's findings. Based on facts, with lots of graphs (I love graphs).
- 2010 was a very dry year.
- 2010 was sunny...
- ...but not too hot.
- Uneven flowering, lower yields?
- Top terroirs shine, again.
- Rain in the nick of time.
- A later harvest (than 2009 and 2005).
- Harvest ‘à la carte’.
2010 was a very dry year
I live 15 miles east of Bordeaux and 15 miles south-west of St-Emilion, between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Bordeaux is a vast wine region and the weather can vary significantly from one end to the other. It’s fair to say, though, that 2010 was a dry year across all areas.
Throughout the growing season, from April to October, we had less than half the rainfall than in 2009 – itself a dry year. 2010 was an exceptionally dry year, and not just at the business end of the season from June through to the harvest. There was less rain in March compared to the average, then very low rainfall in April and May, leaving a shortage of water reserves before the summer had even begun.
2010 was sunny...
2010 saw a fairly similar return to 2009 and 2005 from July to September (when the fruit ripens) and the sunshine continued into October, which was when most of the top reds were picked. Note the differences between these great years and other recent vintages – differences which are reflected in the wines.
But not too hot
There was plenty of sunshine in 2010 but it wasn’t particularly hot which, given the near drought conditions, was a relief. May was much cooler than the 30-year average (14.2ËšC v 15.4ËšC), June warmer (18.6ËšC v 18.3ËšC), and July warmer still (21.7ËšC v 21ËšC), while August was a shade cooler (20ËšC v 21ËšC), as was September.
It’s been said that Bordeaux will become too hot for Merlot and Cabernet with the changing climate. These graphs seem to show that it’s not rising temperatures, but a shortage of rainfall that could be more of a concern for the vast majority of growers that don’t have perfect terroirs.
Late start, then uneven flowering
A sunny April, then a hot streak in late May, followed by a cold snap, probably confused the vines. Rain in the first half of June didn’t help at this critical time, so the flowering was mixed. The Merlot, which is more vulnerable to poor fruit set, was inconsistent from one parcel to another, and often from one vine to another – a result of coulure and millerandage. This was evident on both banks. Old timers also said that as there were many larger bunches, the flowering was poor – ‘the bigger the bunches the lower the yield’.
Top terroirs shine, again
After rain in mid-June, it was a dry old time in the vines throughout the summer. By the end of August, there were clear signs of stress in many vineyards through lack of water. Merlot leaves in many parcels from Margaux to Pomerol were wilting, and younger vines suffered.
Rain in the nick of time
Light rain in early September provided welcome moisture (the ‘before and after’ effect on the leaves in vineyards like Le Pin was clear) and further showers around the 24th and the 29th had a positive effect, as did quite heavy rain on the 4th of October. In between, and on into mid-October, it was clear and sunny.
A later harvest (than 2009 and 2005)
Harvest ‘à la carte’