Bordeaux 2016: An Unexpected Vintage (Part 1)


Who would have betted on the 2016 Bordeaux vintage this summer? We believe very few people did, and neither did we. However, now that the wines have been drained and are aging in the barrels, first tasting reports have come back positive. Compared to last year, this outcome is pleasantly surprising. Let’s revisit what happened this season to understand the mechanisms that have led to a generous or even abundant harvest with balanced wines that are rich in color and tannins.

A record wet and mild winter

First of all, it is important to remember that the winter of 2015-2016 has broken all records in terms of precipitation. After a dry season, the months of January and February reversed the trend with a record of over 350 mm of water accumulation. As a result, the spring began with largely filled reserves and over 500 mm of cumulative rainfall since November 1st. In terms of temperature, the 2016 winter was one of the mildest, with leaves falling as late as February-March.


Bordeaux 2016 Vintage

A difficult beginning in spring

We then moved on to a cold spring. Except for the coldest and hydromorphic soils and clay soils, growth rates were strong and above 2015 levels. A plausible hypothesis would be that the high availability of water in soils combined with mild temperatures in the winter accelerated the mineralization of nutrients by bacteria. This may have boosted nitrogen assimilation in the spring. In 2015 nitrogen conditions were good with a decent floral initiation (Guilpart, 2014). High shoot growth rate during the spring of 2016 implies large cluster size or weight (Keller 2015).

Numerous climatic and health incidents complicated the beginning of the season for winegrowers. We can recall fierce snail attacks in certain appellations, hailstorms in Cognac, a wave of frost and above all the incessant pressure of mildew until the end of June.

Fortunately, the flowering was miraculously spared from these disasters thanks to a more favorable climate around mid-June. The fruit set then proceeded beautifully. Considering the number of clusters linked to a very satisfying floral initiation in 2015, we can begin to see the generous potential of this harvest season.

This is the first of our two-part analysis of the Bordeaux 2016 vintage. View the original post in French here.

Fruition Sciences offers a full suite of products addressing a variety of vine health monitoring needs to enhance fruit and wine quality. Our Dualex Signature product provides detailed nitrogen accumulation profile so that vineyards can apply fertilizer where it’s needed. Our Physiocap product helps growers identify where dry biomass accumulates in your vineyard to improve pruning decisions. Our Multiplex Map helps vineyards optimize harvesting decisions based on fruit color areas.

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  1. I am a bit confused, was spring mild or very cool? I feel this might not have been edited at all before publishing, especially with a sentence starting with the word anyhow which implies the information in the paragraph before it was unimportant or a digression. Appreciate the information but as this regularly shows up near the top of you may want to take another pass editing before publishing these.

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