25th March 2013: tight bud little signs of life
2nd April 2012: vines already in leaf
Although inhabitants in parts of the UK facing huge snowdrifts and loss of electric power might reasonably disagree, Loire producers are happy with a cold March this year.
They remember only too clearly how unseasonably warm March and early April 2012 was. How the vines went berserk in the warm dry weather. Then how the vignerons worst fears were realized during the night of 16th and 17th April when frost destroyed a very substantial part of the 2012 crop.
This year the vines appear to be a good three to four weeks behind last year, so a good chance that unless there is a late frost the Loire may well escape frost damage in 2013. If this is the case it will be very good news for few producers will be able to support another tiny vintage like 2012.
The stats for Tours on Metéo France (25.3.13) tell a clear story
(remembering that we still have another seven days to go before the end of the month):
2013: Average maximum daily temps to date for March: 10.9˚C
2012: Average maximum daily temps for March: 15.6˚C
1991-2010: Average maximum daily temps for March: 12.3˚C
Hours of sunshine:
Average – 1991-2010: 144
2013: 47 mm
2012: 11.8 mm
Average: 50.3 mm
Both sunshine hours and average temperatures are well down on the average and certainly way below the exceptional temperatures of last year. Although it is still quite wet underfoot with puddles in some of the vineyards, rainfall for the first part of 2013 has been around the average. January – 53.7 mm (average: 66.2) and February – 57.1 mm (average: 55.8 mm).
After a year off due to the frost and poor flowering, the 2013 Loire crop could be large if history is a guide. For example 1992 was a very big crop after the severe frost of 1991. This is partly nature rebalancing after a year off but also there is a tendency to prune less severely in order to make up some of the shortfall from the previous year.
Hopefully the climate in 2013 will look more kindly on the vignerons than 2012 did.
25th March 2013: buds tightly shut
In contrast 2nd April 2012 – in leaf