In Bordeaux, the dance between water and weather is essential, shaping the character and quality of the wines each year. In 2023, these elements seem to have harmonized fairy well, offering the promise of exceptional Bordeaux wines. This is in some contrast to last year, with periods of extreme dryness, fires and a lack of rainfalls in the southwest of France.
The annual rainfall in Bordeaux typically ranges from 800 to 1,000 millimeters, evenly distributed throughout the year. This consistent water supply is crucial for vine growth, but precise timing is essential. Spring rains, from March to May, nourish the vines during their vegetative growth phase, promoting healthy foliage and bud development.
During the 2023 wine-making season in Bordeaux, mildew was a significant concern for winemakers. Mildew, caused by fungal pathogens, thrives in conditions of high humidity and rainfall, making Bordeaux particularly susceptible due to its moderate maritime climate. From March to June 2023, when the vines are in their vulnerable vegetative phase, Bordeaux experienced consistent rainfall. While this moisture is generally beneficial, it also created a conducive environment for mildew development. Warm temperatures from May to June exacerbated the issue as they accelerated fungal growth. In 2023, the high threat of mildew made vineyard protection management much more complex in Bordeaux. In some areas, mildew destroyed a large part of the harvest.
In this situation, organic vineyards like Le Pin Beausoleil face additional challenges, as chemical interventions are not allowed. Instead, we need to work with alternative methods like spraying copper, and soil or canopy management to limit the expansion of mildew. This year, the situation required a very intense work, often many hours per day in the vineyard.
Besides the threat by mildew, the weather conditions in Bordeaux from March to September have been favorable for winemaking. March and April witnessed adequate rainfall, ensuring that the vines received the necessary moisture to kickstart their growth. May and June brought warm, sunny days, allowing the vines to flourish, while occasional rainfall maintained soil moisture levels. The months of July and August saw a blend of warm, dry spells and brief showers, which helped maintain the balance between sugar ripening and acidity in the grapes. The absence of extreme heatwaves prevented sunburn damage to the grapes, preserving their quality. As September is rolling in, vintners are now eagerly awaiting the harvest. At Le Pin Beausoleil, harvest will start this week.