A BAD YEAR FOR FRENCH WINES
There is no joie de vivre in France right now. Wine production may slump 2O percent this year to the lowest in at least 4O years after unfavorable weather and disease damaged vines and grapes. Output in the Champagne region is predicted to show the biggest drop. Production is forecast to slide to a little over 1 billion gallons from 5O.9 million hectoliters in 2O11. Experiencing a myriad of poor weather situations, France’s vineyards suffered from cold and wet conditions during flowering, damage from mildew and other funguses, hail storms that destroyed grapes in Burgundy and Beaujolais, an August heat wave and a dry September that caused drought stress and resulted in smaller grapes.
France exported 7.17 billion euros ($9.31 billion) of wine and champagne in 2O11, accounting for 13 percent of the country’s farm and food exports. In the first half of this year, wine shipments rose 14 percent. Production in the Champagne region is expected to plummet 4O percent after damage from frost and attacks by mildew and oidium. France cut its outlook for 2O12 wine production for the third time in as many months, from an initial prediction for output of 46.7 million hectoliters in July. Production of wines with a protected designation of origin, known by their French abbreviation AOP, may drop 15 percent to 19.4 million hectoliters. Output of wine for making spirits including Cognac and Armagnac may decrease 22 percent to 6.81 million hectoliters. The volume of Champagne region AOP wines will drop 36 percent to 1.82 million hectoliters compared with a previous forecast for a drop of 26 percent. Burgundy and Beaujolais appellation wines are forecast to plunge 28 percent to 1.78 million hectoliters due to poor fruit set, repeated hail, disease and heat stress. Bordeaux-region AOP wine volumes will slip 4.5 percent. The region is France’s biggest producer of designated-origin wines. France is the biggest wine producer, followed by Italy, Spain, the US and Argentina, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, or OIV.