Thursday 12th April 2018
As you drive around the Medoc early in April, you still see some vines that need pruning, but not many. That's because the most exciting time of the year is coming - the moment new green and pink life bursts out of the gnarled old vines! The very first buds are appearing, starting a process that will very soon see the vineyards transformed from a drab, brown landscape to one bursting with swathes of vibrant green.
It's also heralding a period of maximum danger - the time when late frosts can destroy the tender new leaves and flowers. This happened last year, with two severe frosts in late April causing some growers to lose around 80% of their crops. While the better established chateaux were able to absorb the blow, having stocks of previous vintages to sell, some newly established growers who didn't have any such buffer of stock to sell, were wiped out. It may be that some of the unpruned vines one sees around belong to these unfortunate people.
However, fingers crossed that it won't happen again this year, the weather continues to be unseasonably wet and cool but a change is forecast from next week, when temperatures should get considerably warmer during the day. Let's hope they don't get correspondingly colder at night! If all goes well, these new buds bursting out all over the Bordeaux wine-growing area, should at maturity produce some 800 million bottles of wine!
I'll drink to that ...