Saturday, May 6, 2017

"French Bordeaux vineyards could lose half of harvest due to frost"

It started with a note from a friend on April 25 that included this story from the 22nd:
GEL MORTEL - Après quelques jours de chaleur estivale, le gel et les températures négatives ont provoqué de gros dégâts dans les vignobles d’Alsace. Il faut dire que les températures sont descendues jusqu’à -6°C dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi. "On frise dans beaucoup d’endroits les 95 à 100% de pertes" de bourgeons, explique Gérard Schaffar, président de la cave de Turckheim, dans le Haut-Rhin...MORE, including video
Schoolboy French translation: "It got cold, 21-22° F, the buds on the vines died, 95% to 100% losses."
And I'm thinking, "Sure, but it's Alsace, what do they produce? Some Germanic whites, I couldn't name one to save my life. I do hope the growers have a safety net though.

And then the Guardian on the 27th:
French winemakers deploy candles, heaters and helicopters to save vines from frost
Okay, they know the drill.

Then yesterday Bloomberg said: 

France’s Top Vineyards Suffer Biggest Loss in Decades
  • Worst freeze since 1991 to cut Bordeaux volume by up to 40%
  • Champagne, Burgundy vineyards suffer for second straight year
In the predawn hours of April 27, as temperatures across Bordeaux plunged below freezing, the normally dark and deserted vineyards suddenly sprang to life. Armies of workers decamped into the fields, fires raged and giant fans and helicopter blades whipped up the icy air.
The invading enemy: A frost that threatened one of the world’s most valuable crops, the grapes that produce $4,000 bottles of Chateau Petrus and other prized wines....
Wait, what?
This morning Reuters reports the headline story:
Sat May 6, 2017 | 7:42am EDT
Bordeaux vineyards in southwest France could lose about half of their harvest this year after two nights of frost damaged the crop at the end of April, a wine industry official said on Saturday.
Wines from the Cognac, Bergerac, and Lot-et-Garonne regions had also been affected, Bernard Farges, head of the Syndicat des vins Bordeaux et Bordeaux Supérieur, told Reuters.
"For Bordeaux wines...we estimate that the impact will be a loss of about 50 percent, depend on how many buds can regrow," he said.

Including lost earnings at wine industry subcontrators, the total damage is estimated at one to two billion euros ($1.1- $2.2 billion), with wine production set to fall by about 350 million bottles....MORE