Burgundy harvest dates back to the 14th century

I found this interesting article investigating climate change with the help of Burgundy harvest dates:

Among others, I found this statement very interesting (GHD stands for grape harvest dates):
“The 33 extremely warm events comprising the fifth per-
centile bracket of GHDs are unevenly distributed over time
(Fig. 10); 21 of them occurred between 1393 and 1719, i.e.
one out of the 15 years included a hot spring–summer pe-
riod. In contrast, this is the case for just 5 years between 1720
and 2002, i.e. one out of 56. Under those circumstances, the
memory of outstandingly warm years faded. No wonder that
the hot summer of 2003 came as a surprise. Since then 8 out
of 16 spring–summer periods were outstanding according the
statistics of the last 664 years, no less than 5 among them
within the last 8 years.This implies that the extremes in the
past have now become normal.”

That the data existed was well known (mainly to experts, I think), but in this article many inaccuracies have been corrected.
Interesting to read that the harvest of 1556 was on August 16…


That was fascinating! Thank you for posting it.

Shame they also did not point out that French wines were considered very inferior in those days and prior to latter day riper picks. Until about 17th century and really into 18th century when riper picks became the norm. Historically, French wines had hard time selling/competing against even wines of Greece and Malta, due to lower alcohols in French wines, and lighter body as a result. Plenty of invoices still intact from those days to support this. Only after the Dutch taught them to pick riper did French industry make a step up. Yes, all swept duly under the rug by the great French wine marketing machine since, and now selling you “lower alcohol wine” labeled under 14, but actually higher than that, much higher in some cases. Reverse osmosis was created in Bordeaux, for a reason, in constant use since.

The point is that French wines, and Burgundy in this example, were picked earlier back then. BUT NOT DUE TO WEATHER, as they try to claim now.

Read up on wine history, plenty of interesting facts the French want you to forget about. Look at how quickly the French wine producers will now re-label their wine to show TRUE alcohols, which are in the mid 14s and even 15s at times, and even 16s. Something well known to those who were always curious about their labels not really matching palate impressions, and also having access to a lab always helps, too. How many were duped, even in this day, to think French wines are lower in alcohol than their counterparts from New World? Turns out to be a lie, after all. So, those here who have been screaming for truth in labeling, here it comes. Finally.

And not to pick on the French, and Burgundy, but my tasting group did an interesting tasting in September with specific NorCal wines, blind of course, and with ringers to keep us all honest were tasted to see if their palates reflected supposed and claimed “early pick and lower alcohols due to that”. Turned out to be very educational, let’s call it that.

Numbers are all relative, of course. But make no mistake. Early picks in France back in middle ages were not due to weather conditions, but a wine grower preference. Now picking well into high 20s Brix, for DECADES now, and well before “global warming” even became an issue. Call LLC and ask what made them invent RO use in wine production. Not global warming, that’s for sure.

I’m confused.

Unless you are trying to “prove” climate change is a hoax, I think you are conflating many issues. I can believe everything you say about French marketing, ripeness, and label claims, but still strongly believe in climate change. Ask the winemakers, or taste the wines, or look at the data. It’s getting hotter and the wines are impacted.

However, if your objective is to confuse people and undermine the case for climate change, then good luck with that, I guess.

Have any of those in your group ever done a blind tasting comparing perceived alcohol levels to a lab analysis? That might be very educational.

All he’s saying is that there are confounding issues such that you can’t draw a direct line from pick dates in Burgundy to climate change. He’s not saying that climate change is not a thing because of the existence of these confounding issues. This is the difference between “if A then B,” and “if and only if A then B”

I wish there was more corresponding data like “average Brix at harvest” data to be able to normalize the information better, but it is impressive that they pulled all of this info in.

It is worth reading the paper carefully before dismissing it (or accepting Greg’s critique as valid).

The authors correlated the Burgundy harvest dates as an indicator for weather conditions by cross-referencing them with other non-viticultural indicators (grain harvest dates in England and Germany, tree rings, etc.) and using historical research on how people responded to the weather conditions in extreme outlier years.

They also adjust pre-18 century harvests by 7 days to account for what they describe as “Anthropogenic changes in winemaking” meaning they started picking later because there was a developing market for deeper colored, longer lasting wines.

Not sure what this has to do with the French hoodwinking us rubes into drinking their (supposedly) low alcohol wines now, though.

I sure don’t read his screed the way you do. You are clearly more generous than me. When I see an article about an impact of global warming, and somebody immediately tries to undermine it, then I will be suspicious about motivations.

Yes, and moreover such a shift in winemaking practices would influence the data as a continuous, but probably slow shift of the average harvest dates, whereas it would have no influence on the distribution of the peaks, which is all what this article is about.

Thanks for pointing this out.