World’s worst wine disasters

Hailstorms of Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Languedoc

HailInHand

Hail causes havoc for winemakers every year, no less so in recent years than in France, where Bordeaux and Burgundy have both been badly affected for the past three years.

This year, large swathes of Bordeaux vines were destroyed after two nights of hail storms in June, as torrential rain and lightening swept across France. The Médoc appellation was one of the worst affected areas with around 300 hectares of vines completely decimated and up to 1,000 hectares in a further five regions; Prignac-en-Médoc, Ordonnac, Civrac, Blaignan and Saint-Yzans, badly affected. Bordeaux was badly affected the previous year following a series of hailstorms which destroyed the crops of around 100 producers.

In July Languedoc-Roussillon become the latest region of France to experience severe hailstorms, with some grape crops completely wiped out. Between 12,000 and 15,000 hectares of vineyard in the Aude – about a quarter of the department’s total plantings – were affected. Among the worst hit areas were appellations around Carcassonne, especially Minervois and Corbières, where early reports indicated that 80-100% of vines have been damaged.

While in June Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune suffered hail storms for a third year in a row with damage to the vines ranging from 40% to 90% across the region.

2 Responses to “World’s worst wine disasters”

  1. Ducourt says:

    1956, the extreme frost wiped out 80% of all vineyards between Bordeaux and Languedoc

  2. Richard Smart says:

    Who wrote this about phylloxera…So many mistakes.

    There are several books on the subject, and a fulsome entry in the Oxford Companion to wine.

    Phylloxera did not come close “to killing every vine on the European continent, and all of its grape varieties”. There are experimental vineyards in France, on sandy soils, still own-rooted.
    Phylloxera was reported in a London glasshouse, and did not “devastate British vineyards”, probably the majority of which, and there are many more now, remain free of phylloxera.

    Burying toads under vines, which might be praised today as “biodynamic”, was one of many bizarre solutions offered for prize money. The solution was to graft to resistant American rootstocks. Sadly the author of the article confuses this process with “hybridisation” which is a sexual crossing of two varieties.

    Phylloxera is controllable by grafting on resistant rootstocks, and many but not all vines are planted this way. The vineyards of Chile are free of phylloxera, as are the great majority in Australia.

    I have recently written an article suggesting that grapevine trunk diseases pose a greater threat to the worlds vineyard than phylloxera. If you are going to include vineyard pests and diseases in “the worlds worst wine disasters”, trunk diseases and maybe red blotch virus are major omissions.

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