No matter which way you look at it, this week’s Bordeaux frost disaster has been a tragedy. Putting pay to many people’s dreams before they really got started and inflicting deeper financial pain on many. And somehow – don’t ask me for a technical or logical explanation – one small village (there may be others?) in that concentrated wine mecca was spared the devastation.
Just a few kilometres north of the river Garonne lies the village of Cardan with its 12th century church and home to the small micro vineyard winery of Paradise Rescued.
Following a slow start to the season with initial bud burst in late March, the sunshine and warmth of the first three weeks of April launched the vineyards into rapid spring growth. We like to tie down the main guyot branches as late as possible as an additional frost precaution. But the growth was so rapid that we couldn’t wait any longer.
On the night of Wednesday 19th April a deep frost cut across central western Europe inflicted serious vineyard damage in France, Germany, Switzerland… Bordeaux was partially impacted but nothing like the brutality of what was still to come. In a doubleheader over the nights of Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th, interspersed with daytime rain in between the two nights, Bordeaux was ravaged by frost in the early hours approaching sunrise.
In the village of Cardan it was also cold! Very cold in fact. But for some reason Cardan – and Paradise Rescued we are happy to report – was spared by the ravaging frost. Our vineyards have high exposed spots – at the top of the new Merlot block. And other low potential frost pockets like that at the south-westerly bottom end of the Cabernet Franc. Both would seem like obvious targets for Mother Nature. But for whatever reason, neither suffered damage. It was almost as if the frost sidestepped us and moved on to the next village.
April (and early May) is always a high frost risk potential month in the Bordeaux region, having last been attacked with real anger back in 1991. Despite the use of large candle heaters, wind machines, water sprays and even helicopters, the results were devastating with some producers estimating losses as high as 80% of their buds (hence harvest).
But thankfully one small terroir was spared! Amazingly. With a little love and help from Pascale our vigneronne together with an organic / biodynamic Valerian tea spay, we hope that our vines can successfully overcome their climate trauma and successfully progress on towards another amazing harvest and vintage. Once again, we are reminded though that Mother Nature is very much in charge.
Vintage 2017 continues as Paradise Rescued sidesteps the Bordeaux frost disaster.
Paradise Rescued is the 2016 International Business Award Silver Stevie winner for Small Budget Marketing Campaign.