Vine phenology and climate in Bordeaux, since the beginning of the XIXth century

We analyze the effects of climate (temperature and pluviometry) on the phenologic stages of the vine (débourrement, flowering, ripening and grape harvest). We rebuilt time series starting from the beginning of the XIXth century for the Medoc and the area of Bordeaux, data very seldom mobilized by researchers.
This analysis will be the occasion to show that the use of the grape harvest dates as a marker of climate evolution is problematic, in particular for the last twenty years, owing to the fact that they strongly depend on the evolution of the interventions by man (maintenance of the ground, stripping, grape harvest in green, etc). With too much emphasis on these dates of vintage, it would even be possible to assert that the climate has cooled since they are held ever more tardily. That is the reason why we privilege the dates of flowering and ripening to try to connect phenology and climate. Initially, the climatic series of variables and those concerning phenology will be mobilized to answer the interrogations on the climatic evolution of the area of Bordeaux. Because of the « cyclical » fluctuations recorded for the whole of the variables, we will show that it is difficult, to date, to demonstrate climatic warming. It seems even possible to us to show that there is a relative stability of the climate during the last two centuries in the area of Bordeaux. We will also show that « laws », such as that of Arrhenius, took some wrinkles. In addition, we will invite to prudence when it comes to the use of climatic series because of their great heterogeneity. Hence, it is very important to put in parallel the climatic data and the phenologic data. In addition, the differences between the various major phenologic stages of the vine cycle will be compared with various indices of temperatures (temperature in base 0°C and base 10°C, a number of days at maximum temperature higher than 30°C, etc.). The annual distribution of pluviometry will be also taken into account in our analysis. In spite of the interrogations which the data raise, it seems possible to mobilize them in order to show the evolution of the climate of Bordeaux and its influence on the phenology of the vine.

Authors: Jean-Michel CHEVET (1) et Jean-Pierre SOYER (2)

(1) INRA-CORELA, 65, Bd de Brandebourg, 94205, Ivry-sur-Seine cedex, France
(2) INRA-ECAV, B.P. 81, 33883, Villenave d’Ornon cedex, France


Keywords: phénologie, vigne, climat, température, Bordeaux, réchauffement

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