France heading for small but high-quality 2013 wine vintage

Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:26am EDT
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By Sybille de La Hamaide

BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - French wine producers said they were expecting a small but high-quality 2013 vintage after violent storms and the coldest spring in more than 25 years afflicted vineyards.

Output was expected to fall to some of the lowest levels in two decades in many parts of the world's largest wine-producing country, they said, as the harvest started in the south.

But dry and warm summer weather that helped ripen the grapes should keep up the quality, barring any more problems with the weather, they added.

"Everything is in place, producers are optimistic," Jean-Philippe Gervais, technical director of the Burgundy Wine Board, told Reuters.

Raging storms and hail destroyed up to 90 percent of the vines in parts of the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions this summer, while cool and damp conditions across the country in June hampered grape growth.

This prompted the agriculture ministry to cut its estimate for this year's wine output on Monday.

France is now expected to produce 44.5 million hectoliters (hl) of wine in 2013 - the equivalent of nearly 6 billion 75-centilitre (cl) bottles - above last year's weather-hit harvest of 41.4 million hl but well below average.

Prices should rise in consequence but only modestly as producers feared losing clients.   Continued...

View of the Chateau de Laubade's vineyards in Sorbets, Southwestern France, August 24, 2012. REUTERS/Bruno Martin