Climate change continues to cause extreme weather conditions across the globe and in April widespread frost wreaked havoc across Europe.
In France winegrowers in Champagne, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon experienced sub-zero temperatures during April which are expected to impact on yields across France.
CIVB, Bordeaux’s regional body has reported that between 30% and 50% of the vineyards in Bordeaux have been affected by the frost, with the level of damage varying from vineyard to vineyard. Some Chateaux have used candles in an attempt of beat the frost.
Champagne Deutz report damage up to 30% across their vineyards although they feel they may not have fared as badly as some French vineyards. The worst damage was where bud burst was advanced in plots around Bisseuil followed by plots at the bottom of the hill on the vineyards of the southern slopes of Epernay. Philosophically Champagne Deutz comment on the harvest prospects “as an athelete would say, one hurdle after another”.
In Burgundy grape growers have reported up to 50% losses across the entire region. In the Languedoc growers report 50% – 100% loss of their potential crop and this following periods of intense heat and drought over recent vintages. Inter-Rhône notes the region is heading for its smallest harvest in 40 years with all the AOCs in the Rhône Valley affected without exception by the frost.
In Italy the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo e Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Dogliani reported in early April a drop in temperatures due to cold drafts coming from Northern Europe, which caused frost across the region. After careful assessment, the Consorzio confirmed that “overall, it appears this early spring frost only affected a few vineyards and did not impact the whole production area – contrarily to what occurred in 2017, when late April frost affected more areas at all altitudes. After a first inspection, we do not believe the vintage will suffer from significant production drop due to recent freezing temperatures”.
Over to the USA for news of the Washington harvest.
The (Washington) State Wine Commission’s annual Grape Production Report showed an 11% decrease in wine grapes harvested in 2020 compared to 2019. The smaller harvest was attributed to a range of factors from weather to smoke events. Steve Warner, president of the Washington State Wine Commission noted “The first factor is Mother Nature. We had a series of freeze events in October 2019, which many farmers say led to smaller canopies and yields in 2020.”
In the Southern hemisphere frost had played a part as the harvest nears completion. New Zealand Wine notes “All reports indicate the quality of the harvest so far is exceptional, and we are looking forward to some fantastic wines coming out of this year’s vintage,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “There will be some variability across different parts of the country, but the industry is anticipating a significantly smaller vintage across several New Zealand wine regions this year.” The smaller crop is due to cooler spring weather and late frosts.
Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers experienced a cool snap during November, but with a generally warm and dry season, delivering smaller bunches and berries, concentrating aromas and flavours look forward to an “outstanding vintage.”
Symington Family Estates has announced that it has bottled six quinta vintage Ports from 2019, of which two will be released en primeur – Quinta do Vesúvio and Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira. The release will be accompanied by two limited edition cases from both estates, each containing the 2019, 2009 and 1999 vintage Ports