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2006 French harvest: more of the same?

The 2006 French harvest is heading for a replay of 2005 with official reports showing similar harvest patterns and projected yields.

According to Onivins, the French national wine office, this year’s harvest is expected to produce 53.6m hectolitres (hl), compared to 53.5m hl in 2005.

Harvest patterns including bud-break and fruit-set are also showing uncanny parallels to last year. Bud-break was late after a cold winter and fruit-set occurred in the first few weeks of June. In both cases and in both years, Onivins said the process was ‘homogenous’ and in ‘favourable weather conditions’.

‘Everywhere, the clusters [of berries] are fine and promising,’ said Onivins. ‘Their health is highly satisfactory.’

This could spell good news for winemakers in Bordeaux, whose superlative 2005 vintage looks set to be reproduced – if all goes well.

‘The harvest potential is very promising but the uncertainty remains over the drought levels of the next two months,’ said Onivins.

If the predictions are correct, Bordeaux will also produce 400,000 hl more wine than last year. Other regions including Languedoc, Loire, Rhone and Burgundy are also set to produce more wine than in 2005

However, the quantity of the harvest has the potential to increase problems of oversupply. The EU, which is aiming to do away with subsidised distillation within the next five years, has just agreed to subsidise crisis distillation of 3m hl of French appellation and table wines.

Written by Oliver Styles

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