Cold summer forces earliest French wine harvest on record

The first bunches of grapes for the manufacture of champagne will be snipped in north-eastern France today - one of the earliest wine harvests ever recorded. Despite miserable weather across much of France in June, July and August - which will greatly reduce the amount of wine produced - the 2007 vendanges, or grape-picking, will be two to three weeks ahead of the normal timetable in most of the country.

The mild winter and the hot weather in April and May gave the grapes a flying start. The wet summer, which produced savage attacks of mildew in some vineyards, has not prevented an early harvest.

Even the reduction in yields - likely to be down 5 to 6 per cent on an average year - is good news, for producers. Vineyards growing the cheapest table wines, in huge surplus worldwide, have been worst affected by the mildew and the wet, cold summer.

French production of low-quality wines is expected to fall by almost one quarter at a time when the world market is still swamped by unsold cheap barrels and bottles from last year and from 2005. There were also poor harvests last winter (the southern hemisphere summer) in Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

French growers - and the French government - hope that the combined effect will be an easing of the overproduction "crisis" and an increase in the wholesale prices of table wines for the first time in a decade. Philippe Janvier, of the French wine, fruit and vegetable trade organisation, Vinifhlor, said: "If we see a continuing increase in demand for table wines, as we did last year, we may see prices go up at last."

In some parts of Languedoc, the first grapes were picked three weeks ago. Harvesting began in Provence on Monday and will extend to Beaujolais and the Rhône Valley by the weekend and white grapes in Bordeaux by the end of the month. In Champagne, which always starts ahead of some more southerly areas, the vendanges are said to be the earliest for a century, apart from the heat-wave year of 2003.

The date of the vendanges in France has been creeping forward for decades: a symptom, according to some meteorologists, of climate change.

Widespread attacks by vine mildew, a form of fungal infection, appeared to threaten the 2007 harvest in some areas in early July. Regular treatment and a slackening of the rain has saved the crops of most middle-rank and better vineyards. Some lower quality producers have been devastated.

Overall, France is expected to produce just under 50 million hectolitres of wine this year, compared to just over 53 million in the past two years. Better quality, or appellation contrôlée wines will be down 2 per cent and table wines down by 23 per cent.

Wine producers insist that the quality of the 2007 vintage will be good or excellent.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Resourcer

£18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...

HR Business Analyst, Bristol, £350-400pd

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried