2016 was certainly a complicated year for most wine regions in Northern France, with biggest losses in volume in the Loire Valley, Champagne and Burgundy, due to unusual climatic conditions and the warmest winter on record in France which provoked an early bud break and exposed the vineyards to the dangers of late spring frost.
The following, short but very comprehensive, 2016 Vintage Harvest Report was compiled by Terrisson Wine, a supplier of some of the best wines coming from the Southern Rhone Valley, Provence, Loire Valley (Sancerre, Saumur, Bourgueil, Vouvray) and even small and hard to get wines like Apremont in Savoie. The following wines from Terrisson Wine portfolio, currently available at ABC, are highly recommended and best value:
Les Villaises, Saumure Champigny 2014 (100% Cabernet Franc) $13.99
Les Fosses d’Hareng, Vouvray 2014, $13.99
Domaine de Paris, Cote de Provence rosé 2015. $10.99
Dame Victoria, Rasteau 2015, $13.99
Harvest Report Terrisson Wine’s Producers
2016, a Complicated Year for French Winemakers…
French wine production is expected to be down sharply this year, with the country’s agriculture Ministry projecting a 12% decline versus 2015. Impacted by hard weather conditions such as spring frost, hailstorms and drought, the French wine harvest is projected to be around 42.2 million hectoliters, which would be the smallest since 2012—and, according to the ministry, one of the lowest crop in the past 30 years.
Val de Loire is one of the hardest-hit by the inclement conditions, with a loss of 35 % in production this year. An early start in the growing season, with a mild winter and quick bud break, led to hope for a superb vintage, until April 2016 with a deadly frost: from April 18th to 27th, several nights of frost as low as 20°F, burnt numerous appellations along the Loire Valley (Anjou : -10% / Still Saumur : -15% / Sparkling : -5% / Vouvray : -20% / Touraine white : -30% / Chinon : -50% / Muscadet : -55%) Center Loire vineyards (Pouilly Fumé, Sancerre) were also affected (between 20 and 30% less).
With production projected to be down by 32%, Champagne is another severely-hit Vineyard. Mildiou caused approx. 15% loss and production was destroyed on 4 600 hectares due to several days of spring frost.
In Burgundy and Beaujolais, overall production will likely see declines of as much as 20%. Frost hit 10 000 ha in Burdundy in April, above all in Côtes de Beaune, Côte Châlonnaise and Chablis. Then, in May, hailstorm caused huge damages in Beaujolais, devastating 3 000 ha of vines (in Fleurie, 80% of the Vineyard were hailed with damages between 50% to 100% depending of the plot). Very violent storms and rains caused mudslide that damaged soils and vines a lot.
Regarding Languedoc-Roussillon, the decline versus 2015 is confirmed with -11%, but with geographic disparity, Roussillon being the hardest-hit part of the vineyard. Fortunately, sanitary conditions remain favorable.
Some Regions are likely to be saved, such as Bordeaux Region. The 2016 harvest should not suffer from any lack of quantity with over 5.5 M hectoliters (5.30 in 2015) and quality is here. The rest of South West may not suffer from any loss, thanks to September rains balancing the too dry month of August.
South-East region is lucky too, with a Production that should remain stable with “only”- 3%: Rhône Valley was safe from hard climatic conditions and the sanitary health of the Vineyard remained excellent. Less quantity (above all for the IGP) but great quality for Provence as well, with rosés that should fit the Provence Appellations characteristics.
Recent rains in Savoie allowed the grapes to grow well, showing a production declining by only -1%.
Finally, Alsace holds its own with a forecast of + 18% vs 2015. After 3 years of very poor harvest and crashing stocks, 2016 is finally a back to normal year in terms of quantity ( 1.15 M hl forecast) and quality, only enough to replenish the stocks.
Sources: Country’s Agricultural Ministry /Interloire / Alliance Loire / CIVB / CIVA / CIVP / Interhône / Vitisphere.com
Atanas Nechkov, Wine & Spirits Sales Manager
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineatanas