Grapes-veraison

We are now only a couple of weeks away from the start of the 2010 Bordeaux harvest, with the whites picked first and the reds following towards the end of September.  

The growing season started with a very cold spring, leading to poor fruit set (and lower eventual volumes) in much of the region. It soon warmed up, however, and a prolonged period of hot weather in early summer – it was the hottest June in France for 35 years – means the grapes are now only a week or so behind 2009. It has also been rather dry and, as Jancis Robinson reported on her website, vine health is "excellent – better than any recent vintage except for 2005". The combination of low yields, little rain and a long ripening period seems like it will add up to a high quality vintage (bar the onset of heavy autumn rains, of course). Veronique Sanders of Haut Bailly, told Decanter: "For the moment, the outlook is superb."

A third 'good' vintage in a row (and the fifth in the last six years), may wear the patience of even the the most dedicated Bordeaux fan, however – particularly following on from a campaign where the hype reached unprecedented levels. How far will prices have to drop to entice back buyers? And what will this mean for the highly priced 2009s? (Cue ten months of debate and discussion.)

Elsewhere in France, the vintage looks like being a mixed one. In the South of France and the Rhone it has been particularly hot and the vines have increasingly shut down due to water stress, putting a temporary halt to veraison (although the grapes and vines are said to be unusually healthy).  

Burgundy has seen the opposite problem, experiencing colder weather and above average rain. Anne Gros reports: "The berries are very small. There was a lot of millerandage and with our older vines we'll be lucky to have half a normal crop."