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2006 was a year of surprises, marked by unusual conditions that will remain in the memory. Generally speaking the weather was hot and dry, with much higher temperatures than the seasonal average in June, July and September. Such untypical conditions at key times during the vine growth cycle had a far-reaching and beneficial effect on the future quality of the crop. Heavy rain at the end of the winter was followed by a long spell of warm and dry weather in April, May and June, enabling the vegetation cycle to catch up after a relatively late start. Flowering took place early and evenly, starting in late May. Veraison likewise began very early, mid-veraison occurring four days ahead of the average, though very hot weather in the second half of July slowed the process. Although 2006 was another dry year (730 mm of rain was recorded, compared with an average of 886 mm), rainfall at regular intervals enabled the vines to cope well with the heat. A total of 459 mm of rain fell between 1 January and 31 August 2006, compared with an average of 517 mm. The grapes started to ripen slowly in the cooler temperatures of August but subsequently accelerated in the exceptional conditions of the first half of September, with heatwave temperatures in the early part of the month. A period of high temperatures and humidity soon brought the Merlots to maturity and picking began on 20 September. The harvest lasted until 5 October in variable weather conditions, producing a crop of fully mature grapes in excellent condition.