by Adam Lechmere
Tuesday 6 September 2011
The Merlot harvest in Pauillac and St Estephe in Bordeaux has begun several days early due to hail damage.
Teams of pickers are in the vineyards now at Château Lafite, Phelan-Segur and Cos d’Estournel, and elsewhere in Pauillac and St Estephe, as vignerons have taken the decision to harvest grapes damaged by the hailstorms that swept the region on 1 September.
Cos d’Estournel suffered extensive damage with vines being entirely stripped of their leaves in some cases.
Managing director Jean-Guillaume Prats told Decanter.com this would be the earliest harvest for over 100 years.
Starting yesterday, on 5 September, he said, sooner than the planned date of 8/9 September ‘will be the earliest harvest at Cos since 1893’.
He added, ‘We are “lucky” that this vintage is [already] extremely early so the damage in terms of phenolic ripeness for the grapes should be very minor. It is too early to say what will be the loss in volume.’
At Phelan-Segur the Merlot harvest also began on 5 September. Managing director Veronique Dausse told Decanter.com up to 25% of the grapes had been damaged, almost all of them Merlot.
Weather conditions are ideal for harvest, she said. ‘After days of 28 degrees and 90% humidity last week it rained at the weekend, and now it is warm but windy and the grapes are now dry. Quality is much better than we expected.’
The Cabernet Sauvignon harvest is expected to start in about 12 days time.