In the vineyards

2016: a year rich in contrasts

The 2016 vintage has put us to the test.
Winter 2015/2016 was rather mild and humid and the vines started budding in late March, early April. It's a fairly late year that can be compared to 2013.
On the 13th of April, a very powerful hailstorm hit the Mâconnais and Beaujolais, in particular the areas of Saint-Véran, Pouilly-Fuissé, Moulin-à-Vent, Saint-Amour and Fleurie.
On the 27th of April the temperature suddenly dropped in 3 hours, from 2 ° C to -2 ° C or even -6 ° C in the Burgundy vineyards. 7000 hectares were affected. The frost did considerable damage in some areas, such as Chablis and the Mâconnais. The vines had already grown several centimetres. The buds and the leaves (and sometimes even the base buds) were burnt.

The month of April was also marked by an exceptionally heavy pressure of mildew. It was not until late May that this situation lessened.
At the end of this period the cumulative rainfall in Beaune was 70% above normal, with a total of 500 mm, which is considerable.
The vines affected by frost have nevertheless continued to grow with, again quite contrasting situations. Some have produced a new generation of grapes, others just leaves.
On the 13th of May, a new hailstorm affected the Chablis vineyards. 400 to 500 hectares were affected to very different degrees. Our vineyards, located in the heart of the appellation, were not affected. This had already been the case during the night of frost.
The month of June was fairly cool to begin with but the 2nd half brought us beautiful hot weather. The flowering happened over the course of a few days and finished quite late, similar to 1995.

The months of July and August continued with extremely summery weather: bright and
hot; and now with a deficit of rainfall. However, the supply of water was sufficient and the vines, with the light and the heat of summer, continued to grow very quickly.

In early September it would almost have been fair to talk of drought!
The visits into the vineyards showed us that the Pinot Noir had thick, skins with "millerands" everywhere (small berry clusters); the state of health was satisfactory.
It is difficult to estimate what the yields will be because, once again, the situation is very patchy, but we are optimistic of a potentially very nice vintage on our hands despite all difficulties of the year.

Frédéric DROUHIN
20th September 2016