When Thomas Paine wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he wasn’t writing about the first part of the 2016 growing season, but he could have been. At first glance, it seems impossible to have a positive outlook on a vintage like 2016, at least based on what we have been through so far. Mother Nature seems determined to challenge us to bring out the best from our conscientious work in the vineyard.
A late frost struck the Cote d’Or on April 26th – the worst since 1981. Many vineyards were wiped out entirely. There may be no Montrachet at all from 2016! The Domaine lost about 50% of its potential crop, with the true percentage varying from vineyard to vineyard. Corton Bressandes lost only 10% of its crop, whlle Beaune 1er Champs Pimont lost almost 75%!
To further complicate matters, mildew pressure has been a major problem, especially at flowering, which has further reduced the crop in each vineyard.
However, history, and mature wines from previous challenging years give us hope. The weather finally turned for the better for the past several weeks. It is often said about wine that the first part of the growing season makes the quantity, the middle part of the season determines the style and harvest has the most impact on quality.
The quantity battle is lost – there will not be much wine in 2016, but the style has yet to be determined, and with beautiful harvest weather, what began as a trial might end in success.