It may become harder to obtain Loire wines from certain areas after a severe spring frost looks set to significantly dent the region's 2016 harvest, an official report says.

Loire frost in brief:

  • Frost has wiped out between 20% and 30% of an average harvest, says trade body
  • ‘Crisis centres’ in worst-hit communes, where losses topped 80%
  • Pressure expected on Loire wine prices as stocks are squeezed

Severe spring frost has ruined the equivalent of between 20% and 30% of an average harvest in the Loire Valley, according to an official report by regional body InterLoire. An average harvest is around 1.9 million hectolitres, or 253 million bottles, it said.

But, losses for 2016 are up to 80% of potential harvest in the worst-hit communes, said officials, who have spent several weeks assessing damage.

Vineyards of Touraine, Nantais and Sarthe suffered most as temperatures sank to minus six degrees celsius in some areas in late April.

Local wine bodies ‘stepped in quickly, setting up crisis centres’, said the InterLoire report.

‘Serious’ problem with stocks of Loire wine

With vineyard flowering still to come towards the end of June, it is too early to make an accurate prediction for the Loire 2016 harvest.

But, there is growing concern over stock levels. High consumer demand and relatively small harvests in recent years means there is less wine in cellars, according to InterLoire.

‘The situation is serious,’ said InterLoire president Gérard Vinet. ‘The Loire Valley works on a “just-in-time” basis, and it is imperative that we introduce a collective strategy to regulate sales.’

‘No price rises’

Bernard Jacob, InterLoire vice president and head of Loire merchants’ association, said price increases should be avoided.

‘The Loire Valley is ready and willing to supply the markets without introducing price rises which may lead to destabilisation,’ he said.

Where is the squeeze?

In terms of sales, 2016 will be relying on the excellent 2015 vintage to supply volumes, said InterLoire.

In 2017 the picture is likely to be more varied.

Appellations with volumes of more than 100,000hl and which suffered less impact – Cabernet d’Anjou, Rosé-d’Anjou, Crémant-de-Loire and Vouvray – should be able to meet demand.

Those which were badly hit – Muscadet, Chinon, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil or Touraine for example, will be assessed ‘on a case-by-case basis, as each situation is so different’, officials said.

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