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French harvest set for 13% increase on 2012

France is currently on course for a normal-sized grape harvest in 2013, but continued poor weather could yet jeopardise this year's crop, according to the country's agriculture ministry.

In its first harvest report of 2013, the ministry currently expects the crop to yield about 46.6m hectolitres (hl), up 13% on last year’s disastrous crop – the smallest since the early 1970s.

However, it also warns that unusual weather patterns are creating huge uncertainty this year.

Most French wine regions are currently two to three weeks behind schedule, with flowering having only just started in Champagne thanks to the abnormally cool and wet spring weather.

In Beaujolais, there were early reports of mildew in the north, as well as instances of filage and the heightened risk of coulure and millerandage.

Parts of the Loire Valley have been badly affected by hailstorms, most notably Vouvray, with Saumur impacted by frost, but the crop is forecast to be down only 1% on the five-year average.

Bordeaux and the South-West have mainly recovered from spring floods, despite the risk of mildew and coulure.

And in Languedoc-Roussillon, flowering has been affected by spells of heavy rain, while there have been localised instances of mildew, and Grenache in particular is facing a high risk of coulure.

Written by Richard Woodard

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