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French wine regions take stock of 2010 harvest

As August approaches, wine regions across France are beginning to assess the quality potential of 2010.

In Champagne, yields have been set at 10,500 kilos per hectare, up 8% on 2009 (when it was 9,700), to reflect an increase in exports – although this is still a long way from the high in 2008 of 13,000 kilo per hectare.

In Bordeaux, according to Météo France, June was the hottest for 35 years, and the first two weeks of July were the hottest since 1921, raising fears of another 2003 harvest.

The heat has been mixed with rain, however, particularly after flowering in May, so there is some coulure (or ‘shatter’, where the grapes do not develop well after flowering).

Veronique Sanders at Chateau Haut Bailly told decanter.com, ‘For the moment, the outlook is superb… the vines are magnificent and the harvest looks to be abundant.’

Alsace vintners expect a ‘classical harvest’, with some threat of mildew from recent rains – although the region had hot and dry weather throughout much of July.

‘We had a difficult flowering, too,’ said oenologist Thierry Fritsch of the Alsace Wine Union CIVA, ‘which delayed things for about three weeks.’

But the fine weather throughout most of July ‘accelerated the process so that we should expect a normal harvesting season, starting about mid-September.’

Paul Avril of Clos des Papes in Chateauneuf du Pape also expects a ‘more classic vintage’ with a later harvest than 2009.

In Burgundy, Sylvain Pitiot of Clos de Tart in Morey St Denis also evoked a difficult flowering period marked by coulure, because of cold weather and rain, which delayed the growing season for at least two weeks.

But ‘a super month of July’ has helped to speed up the process. ‘For most vineyards throughout Burgundy, I expect 2010 to have an average and perhaps slightly later than average harvest,’ he said.

Still, the coulure will mean that there will be ‘about 20% less volume compared to an average harvest,’ he added.

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Written by Jane Anson, and Panos Kakaviatos

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