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Hailstorms batter Bordeaux

Just when Bordeaux was taking a moment to enjoy the unexpected success of its 2008 En Primeur campaign, a series of powerful hailstorms have torn their way through the region, drenching vineyards and stripping vines of their vegetation. Each appellation has felt the effects of the violent weather but it appears St. Emilion has seen the worst of the storm.

As producers walked amongst their vines to survey the damage, it became clear that 2009 is already destined to be a lower-yielding vintage. Entire shoots snapped off vines after the constant thrashing from the golf ball-sized hail. Some producers have lost as much as half of their precious crop; this nasty weather may even be an early catalyst for a smaller 2010 harvest. It's amazing how a 20-minute storm can make such a lasting impression on a vintage. This is far from good news but at least the storm showed up early in the year; Right Bank producers remember the heartbreak of 1999 when a similar storm decimated the vintage just a couple short weeks prior to harvest.

Vintners will now focus on keeping their remaining grapes in good health. If the weather remains too wet and humid, they will be forced to contend with rot as well. Again, this unfortunate weather has come early enough for the vines to stage a comeback. This could also bode well for the 2008s. Knowing 2009 is off to a rough start, buyers may revisit this most recent campaign and take advantage of the value it offers.