A vine condition known as chlorosis causes some or all of the foliage to become yellow and eventually die from a lack of chlorophyll. The chlorosis that is most prevalent and severe is that which appears in the spring and early summer and is brought on by iron deficiency, which is frequent in soils rich in limestone.

As a result of the phylloxera invasion at the end of the 19th century, lime-induced chlorosis became an issue in some areas of France because American vine species utilized as phylloxera-resistant rootstocks were more susceptible to iron deficiency than the original vinifera root systems.

This problem, known in French as ‘chlorose calcaire’, has been largely overcome now by the selection of lime-tolerant rootstocks suitable for calcareous soils, such as 41B or the newer Fercal. It has proven difficult to identify rootstocks with sufficient lime tolerance for robust vine development in Burgundy and Champagne, where soils are heavy in limestone.

According to certain historical experts, the sensitivity of early post-phylloxera rootstocks to lime-induced chlorosis may explain part of the apparent reduction in quality that were noticed in post-phylloxera wines.

Chlorosis is a typical indication of nutritional shortages such as nitrogen, magnesium, or sulfur. Some vine diseases might also produce it. The result can be widespread, as with the fanleaf degeneration virus, or more localized, as with the so-called oil stain on leaves caused by downy mildew infection.

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