This year may well be a good one for those selling agrochemicals to the wine industry. Downy mildew, known simply as le mildiou in French, is rampant in vineyards throughout Europe, particularly but by no means exclusively in Bordeaux, the Languedoc and Roussillon.
At least in the (increasingly) humid climate of Bordeaux, vignerons are by no means unaccustomed to dealing with mildew, even if this year the spring and early summer have been so much wetter than usual that the fungal disease is much more widespread than usual, and vineyards have been horribly muddy and difficult to access. The vineyards of Burgundy and Champagne have also been badly affected by the particularly wet start to the season with the flowering badly affected too. Below keen viticulturist Saskia de Rothschild of Ch Lafite examines vines in the grand cru Richebourg in Vosne-Romanée last Friday at a celebration at Domaine Leroy. The picture above right is a close-up of some of those vines.
In the Languedoc the heavy rains described by Tam in France's 2018 growing season so far are unusual for this time of year and the resulting mildew therefore much more devastating. Life has been particularly tough for those espousing organic viticulture.
And then, last week, on two nights of storms, came hail in the Aude département of western Languedoc and in northern Roussillon that wiped out many vineyards' 2018 crop completely. In Limoux losses were about 70% and in Corbières about half the total vineyard area was affected. It is called locally une catastrophe.
There are very many despondent vignerons in France, and Monty Waldin reports from Montalcino in Tuscany that spraying has been incessant.
So life is tough for very many of those responsible for filling our glasses with delicious liquids. Let us toast them all with particular sympathy tonight.