April 6th 2021, buds have benefited from the sun and summery temperatures of this early spring. Around 6pm, a snow shower suddenly brings us back to winter.
Then a very cold (about -2°C) night gives very little chance to the delicate small leaves that were only starting to break.
Today, we estimate at least 30% damage but, as the buds have yet to develop, we have to wait for a few weeks to be able to assess our losses.
We are not equipped to fight against frost, our insurance is our 4+ years of stock in the cellar.
If such extreme episodes were to happen more often, we will think of protecting ourselves. Indeed we experience white frost almost every year but this year, as in 2003, the frost is a wintery one: a black frost.
This is a type of frost caused by the move of a cold (negative temperature) air mass. Temperature can drop a few degrees in a matter of minutes.
The black frost doesn’t have a specific colour if not the colour of the night and maybe, of the darkness of the damage caused. This moving air mass has very low humidity, the dew point, negative, isn’t reached yet when temperature goes below 0°C. There’s no dew on the ground then, and the cold air layer can become several metres thick. During a black frost, damage is worsened by the low humidity of the air. Indeed, as the fruit, made of more than 90% water at this young stage, loses water through evaporation in this dry atmosphere. Water changing from its liquid to gas form absorbs a high amount of energy, which produces as much extra cold along the same principle as the refrigerator. This makes the fruit temperature even lower than its surrounding air. The gap can be between 2 to 4 degrees. The fruit then drops to -6°C -8°C when the air temperature is -2°C -4°C.
Until May, white frost is possible. This frost appears when the dew freezes. The dew first settles on the ground when the air becomes saturated with humidity. As the temperature drops during the night, white frost happens as 0°C is passed through, while temperatures under cover are still positive.
White frost can cause severe damage, especially if it’s late and plants are at a more advanced, thus more fragile, state. Still air gets colder through simple radiation towards the atmosphere in clear weather.
Cold air, heavier, accumulates at ground level and any lower parts of the landscape, this is when you see a temperature inversion as temperatures often remain positive a few metres high. This is why you can fight against frost by mixing the positive air at 10-12m of altitude with the negative one of the lower layer, using “wind towers”. It’s also the reason why it barely freezes during spring, when the air is moving.
Straight out of the cellar :
Vieille Vigne du Levant 2011 vintage is now available
in bottle and magnum.
William Kelly of the Wine Advocate confirms Pierre did particularly well with this vintage. This cuvée received the exceptional grade of 97/100!
Latitude, the cuvée to share, is now available
in bottle, magnum, jeroboam and mathusalem!!
You can then adjust the size to the number of your guests.
During lockdown in 2020, we saw a drop in the demand for magnums.
The desire for bigger sizes is now back, a sign that morale is coming up again and that the desire to share is still present: we just found a new barometer for morale!
Sophie, Pierre and Arthur