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Bordeaux 2014: Chateaux set for harvest rebound

Bordeaux chateaux look set to ease the pain of a weather-blighted 2013 growing season by reporting a much larger harvest this year, officials have said.

Bordeaux’s 2014 wine grape harvest is set to be 52% larger than 2013, which was the region’s lowest since 1991, France‘s agriculture ministry said this week in its final pre-harvest forecast.

Officials expect Bordeaux to produce 6m hectolitres of wine from its upcoming harvest. That would be 8% above the region’s average production from the last five harvests. It is still too early to make reliable projections about quality.

As a whole, France is expected to make close to 47m hectolitres of wine from the 2014 crop, up by 11% on last year, the government figures said.

Bordeaux chateau owners and winemakers have spent much of 2014 watching the skies with crossed fingers crossed more tightly than usual.

Many saw production cut by between 30% and 50% last year after poor weather at critical points in the growing season hampered grape ripening and forced rigorous selection on the harvest sorting tables. For example, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild employed 695 pickers on one day alone to cope with the level of precision required.

Patrick Jestin, chief executive of Dourthe, told Decanter.com, ‘The situation is really different in 2014. Following nice weather conditions in spring, even flowering is showing favourable crop expectations versus 2013. Picking begins next week.’

Elsewhere in France, Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Rhone should collectively produce 8% more wine from 2014 than from 2013, at around 2.2m hl, officials predicted, without being more specific. Beaujolais’ trade council has already said producers have seen a similar growing season to the one that produced the highly rated 2010 vintage.

In Burgundy, there are again likely to be strong disparities between appellations after violent hail storms destroyed swathes of vines in Pommard and Volnay for the third consecutive year.

It is set to be a similar story in Languedoc Roussillon, where some producers in the Aude region lost more than 80% of their crop to hail. Languedoc’s 2014 vintage production was predicted to fall by 9% this year, to 12.4m hl.

Further north, Champagne, Alsace and Val de Loire were predicted to produce 13%, 18% and 10% more wine from 2014 than 2013.

Bordeaux 2014

Written by Chris Mercer

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