Bordeaux is facing its smallest harvest since 1991, according to the Bordeaux Wine Bureau.
A difficult spring, a wet early summer and a series of devastating hail storms have reduced the Bordeaux 2013 crop by around 20% versus 2012, which came in at 5.25m hectolitres, the Bureau said.
Ripening is still around two weeks behind an average year, although a hot and sunny July and August has helped to minimise diseases such as mildew or oidium.
The Pessac Léognan syndicate, traditionally first to bring in the white grapes, told decanter.com that its winemakers were not expecting to begin picking before September 15.
Eric Perrin, of Chateau Carbonnieux, said it is the latest he remembers picking since 1988.
Across France, this year’s harvest could be the lowest for 40 years, according to Jerome Despey, president of the wine section of FranceAgriMer, a service operating between industry and government. It estimated 43.5m hectolitres for 2013, against a ten-year average of 45.4m.
Winegrowers in several regions are facing delays. ‘We have not caught up from the late start to the season,’ Arnaud Bourgeois, of Domaine Henri Bourgeois in Sancerre, told decanter.com this week.
‘The veraison (colour change) for our pinot noir is only halfway completed, and in a few days we will remove all grapes that are still green, to allow the rest to ripen up fully. Alcohol levels will be moderate, but I am happy with the quality.’
In the south of France, some Provence vineyards sent out pickers this week. Jean-Jacques Bréban, president of Provence Wine Council, reported that yields would be higher than last year, and a return to average.