French crop falls by 29% to all-time low in 2021

Monday September 13 2021 by Vitisphere

 'By their very nature, these forecasts cannot take into account events that may occur after this date and influence the harvest,' said the French administration. 'By their very nature, these forecasts cannot take into account events that may occur after this date and influence the harvest,' said the French administration. - Photo credit : Alexandre Abellan (Vitisphere)

“Wine production in 2021 is expected to be in the range of 33 million hectolitres, 29% lower than in 2020 and 25% lower than the average harvest over the last five years”, announced the Ministry of Agriculture's Statistics and Forecasting Service (SSP) on 7 September. The 2021 harvest is described as “An all-time low, lower than the crops in 1991 and 2017, which were also affected by severe frost in the spring”, with yields reportedly “close to those of 1977, when the size of the crop was curbed by destructive frost and summer rainfall”.

In its overview of the French wine regions, the department pointed out that none was spared from adverse weather this year. The spring frost affected early-ripening cultivars such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Centre-Loire, Jura, Languedoc, the Rhone Valley and South-East France, for example. After flowering, shatter affected yields in Bordeaux, the Centre-Loire, the South-West, the Rhone Valley and Provence. Rainfall over the summer fuelled pressure from fungal diseases including downy and powdery mildew, black rot and even botrytis, causing crop losses in Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Jura and Savoy. One issue the department dwells less upon is the drought that affected the Mediterranean regions and “has apparently reined in yields, particularly in Roussillon” and in Corsica.

Although it also underwent gruelling conditions, Cognac seems to be coping well. In fact, its 1% drop by volume compared with the five-year average allows it to lay claim to the title of leading French producer region by volume this year. Savoy has also averted disaster, with its output expected to drop by a marginal 3%.

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