In Bordeaux, the dance between water and weather is decisive and shapes the character and quality of the wines every year. In 2023, these elements seem to harmonize well and promise exceptional Bordeaux wines. This is in some contrast to last year, when the southwest of France experienced extreme drought, fires and a lack of rainfall.
Bordeaux receives between 800 and 1,000 millimeters of rainfall per year, which is evenly distributed throughout the year. This constant water supply is crucial for the growth of the vines, but the exact timing is crucial. The spring rains from March to May supply the vines with water during the vegetative growth phase and thus promote the healthy development of foliage and buds.
In the 2023 Bordeaux wine season, mildew was a major problem for winegrowers. Mildew, which is caused by fungal pathogens, thrives in conditions of high humidity and rainfall, to which Bordeaux is particularly susceptible due to its temperate maritime climate. From March to June 2023, when the vines are in their vulnerable vegetation phase, there was continuous rainfall in Bordeaux. Although this humidity is generally beneficial, it also created a favorable environment for the development of mildew. The warm temperatures from May to June exacerbated the problem as they accelerated fungal growth. In 2023, the high threat of mildew made vineyard protection management in Bordeaux much more complex. In some areas, mildew destroyed a large part of the harvest.
In this situation, organic vineyards such as Le Pin Beausoleil face additional challenges, as chemical interventions are not permitted. Instead, we need to work with alternative methods such as copper spraying and soil or canopy management to limit the spread of powdery mildew. This year, the situation required very intensive work, often many hours a day in the vineyard.
Apart from the threat of mildew, the weather conditions in Bordeaux from March to September were favorable for viticulture. There was sufficient rainfall in March and April to give the vines the moisture they needed to get their growth going. May and June brought warm, sunny days for the vines to thrive, while occasional rainfall kept the soil moist. In July and August, there was a mixture of warm, dry periods and short rain showers, which helped to maintain the balance between sugar ripeness and acidity of the grapes. The absence of extreme heat waves prevented sunburn damage to the grapes and preserved their quality. In September, the winegrowers are now eagerly awaiting the harvest. The harvest starts this week at Le Pin Beausoleil.