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Bordeaux sees early mildew outbreak

This spring’s wet and warm weather has caused an “early and very virulent” outbreak of mildew in Bordeaux, according to reports.

While the great and the good were celebrating and tasting Bordeaux en primeur’s latest releases from the 2023 vintage, French website Vitisphere said that a major mildew threat had hit vineyards after warm weather followed by rains last month had caused the issues.

Alexandre Davy of the French Institute of Vine and Wine (IFV) told a CIVB webinar that there was mildew “almost everywhere” in the Libourne area on a “frequent or even very frequent basis”.

Davy added that the situation was the same in Graves, but it was “more scattered” in the Médoc.

Davy said that the outbreaks were a few weeks earlier than last year and in 2020, stating from September 2023 to April this year 950mm of rain fell in Saint-Émilion, which is compared to an average of 544mm. In addition, it was 1.3 degrees C warmer.

Increasing treatments

Winegrowers will now have to increase treatments and plant protection in order to limit further infestations, but there is an expectation that it will spread into the remainder of Bordeaux’s vineyards, Davy said.

Even vineyards that had sprayed early against mildew would still be impacted due to leaf growth after the sprays, which will leave new growth potentially unprotected.

Despite cold weather in recent days, warmer weather is predicted, which could lead to further outbreaks.


Last year, a helpline was set up by the local agricultural body MSA Gironde to help “traumatised” winegrowers deal with the devastating impact of a second bout of mildew in July.

French authorities felt it was necessary due to the impact of two spells of humidity which have hit the wine-growing areas of Bordeaux, hitting Merlot and red varieties in particular.

This February, Marie Loustalan Prévost of Château Grand Corbin-Despagne told the drinks business that Bordeaux was finding it “difficult to deal with mildew because we have an oceanic climate, and therefore more humidity.”

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