2016 saw mother nature deal a bad hand to Burgundy. Constant storms, hail, frost, and every other imaginable problem made for a rough year and many vineyards suffered at the hands of foul weather. However, harvest has come and gone again, and growers and vintners are making the best of a difficult situation.
- Total harvest was down 20-30% compared to last year
- A mixture of hail, mildew, and frost completely decimated some vineyards
- They saw the worst frost since 1981, with temps dropping to around 21 degrees
The result? Some predict a sharp increase in prices for Chablis and other red Burgundy. Quality will be marginal to good depending on the skill of the winemaker and the overall quality of the grapes. Still, it looks like a minefield in terms of finding great bottles from the 2016 vintage. Only time will tell though.
On a bright note, some growers are reporting better than expected harvest quality thanks to better weather toward the tail end of the harvest. While Chablis might be the hardest hit area, other regions, especially the Cote d’Or seem to have fared better.
Some growers in Chablis have even employed “hail cannons” in an attempt to prevent hail from destroying further crops. This sort of surface to air attack has a very specific weapon. “What they do is spray silver iodide into the storm clouds to prevent hailstones from solidifying.” reports Gueguen.