Did you know that Esca is killing 3% of grapevines every year? It’s a fungus that attacks the roots of 10-20 year old vines that are in full production. The only cure used to be “sodium arsenite” but guess what? It has been prohibited by law to use it…
So what is Esca in the first place?
We know very little about Esca, it’s a wood disease. It’s a silent killing machine. The last 10 years we heard some rumours about esca, but nothing serious, till now! A lot of winemakers are panicking and are afraid that this is going to be the next “phylloxera-like” epidemic.
If you want to know all the details about this disease you can check out this scientific article: esca_report.pdf
Let’s keep it light so everyone can understand. Esca is a fungus that works like a cancer. It kills everything from the inside.
You can find esca everywhere in the world, but especially around the Mediterranean sea. Although this fungus exists for more than 100years it started o spread the last decade. I travel a lot in different types of wine regions, and I’ve heard already from this terrible disease but I thought personally that it was rather rare. But during my last trip in the Loire valley, during the harvesting period, everyone was talking about it and no one had a solution. The worst part was that no one even seemed to care…
In 2012 someone started a petition to send to the Minister of Agriculture of France. Only 65 persons put their signature under it.
Wineries with 25ha of vines are counting their losses up to 17.000€ in the Sud Ouest. This includes the loss of grapes production, the treatment of the soil after grubbing the vines, placing new vines and waiting for them to grow at full force.
A depressing situation with a call for help to the public services that seems to have deaf man ears. After the banning the use of aresnite in 2001 they promised an audit to find a solution. Winemakers are still waiting patiently.
It is obvious that the use of Arsenite is prohibited because of it’s carcinogenic characteristics but standing with crossed arms doesn’t bring any solution either.
On white grapes On black Grapes
I’m not a big fan of thinking in boxes like organic, natural of fairtrade wines. I just like wine, wines with a soul, wines that are not standardised. Honest wines from honest winemakers. Wines that I can drink with as much passion as the winemaker puts in it.
Why am I telling you this? Because apparently this is the start of a new discussion.
Is Esca a creation of man? According to Didier Barrouillet, winemaker in Loire, IT IS!