French vineyards bake in the heat
As if fending off frost and hail weren’t enough, France is now suffocating in abnormal heat.
| French winegrowers have faced frost, hail and now the heat is the challenge.
What about France and the weather?
If it isn’t bad enough that rocks are crashing down on unprotected vineyards or frosts are beating down on vines, winegrowers and vintners now have to deal with a brutal heat wave that threatens to boil the grapes on the vine. Luckily climate change is just a myth dreamed up by evil scientists to disrupt the corporate sector, right?
France is suffocating under the heat wave
In all honesty, this is getting a little too much. Two weeks before the hailstorms that devastated French vineyards, the French meteorological office has now issued a heat wave warning from last Thursday which could last until next week.
“It’s official, France is going to suffer one of the most intense heat waves in its history but also one of the first”, tweeted meteorologist Dr Serge Zaka on Friday, “with a very high risk of fire”.
Twelve French departments, covering the west coast (including Cognac and Bordeaux) and a large part of the Southwest had been put on alert at the red level – the highest level – as of Friday. Temperatures on Saturday are expected to be in the mid-30s (celsius) and the Bordeaux region is expected to hit 39C (102F) on Saturday afternoon.
According to wine news site Vitisphere.com, the Sauternes region of Bordeaux has canceled its Sauternes Fête le Vin evening this weekend due to the heat wave.
“All public gatherings taking place outdoors or in non-air-conditioned premises will be prohibited from 2 p.m. [Friday] until the end of the heat wave”, declared the prefecture of Bordeaux, which evoked the probability of temperatures which could reach 40°C and more.
Storms are expected to start breaking out in the western part of the country by Sunday.
Pan-European Wine Release
Three friends based between Italy and France have released a pan-European wine made from grapes from both countries and funded with the help of the European Cultural Foundation. Nicknamed Œnope (which on the label will sound like a “no” to detractors), the idea of blending wines from across the EU came to the group – Jérôme Felici (who travels between Rome and Bordeaux) and Bordelaise Françoise Roger and Bruce Roger – through the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine forcing them to promote more collective European values.
“The Borderless European Wine by Oenope is above all a solidarity project in the face of globalization, climate change and the health crisis”, indicates the group on its website. “It is a question of creating a link between European winegrowers, of promoting their know-how, their terroirs and their cultures, echoing the motto of the European Union: ‘United in Diversity’.”
“We belong to a generation that shares the same European feelings,” the friends told Terre de Vins this week, “but we can see that feeling being abused […] as well as having […] war on our doorstep. It seemed to us that wine was a common thread, a common good between a large number of European countries.”
Their idea – to produce and sell blended wines from across Europe – received €30,000 ($31,600) in EU funding through the European Cultural Foundation in 2020. However, the inaugural version (a red and a white) only presents wine from three countries: France, Spain and Italy.
Some winegrowers were however “frankly not very open to the idea of ’mixing’ their terroir with that of a foreign colleague, even in limited production”, according to Terre de Vins.
However, by bringing in Burgundy winemaker Antoine Lardy, the trio were able to combine Chardonnay from the Mâconnais and Lombardy with Riesling from Trentino-Alto Adige for their inaugural white wine and, for the red wine, an even more interesting 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from Rioja with equal parts Beaujolais Gamay and Barbera from Piedmont.
Around 6,000 bottles of each wine have been produced and a case of six bottles is available for €85 on the Oenope website.
Castilla La Mancha denounces the new wine law
As reported earlier this year (see article #4 Castilla-La Mancha pushes quality from April), the central Spanish wine region of Castilla La Manacha is set to pass a new “Law on the vine and wine” – a series of measures aimed at stimulating the region’s wine sector, in particular by allowing more grape varieties, etc.
However, as reported at the time (and going even further back in the news: see Label Investigation Sparks War of Words), some producers say the law doesn’t go far enough. Indeed, the National Association of Young Farmers (ASAJA) laments the absence of what it says is any attempt to incorporate additional traceability and auditing.
“If the law does not contemplate control and traceability,” the association said this week, “it will be useless to have a law on the vine and wine of Castilla-La Mancha.”
According to regional media Agroclm, the Association of Young Farmers criticized the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development for “not having taken into account a single one of the allegations that had been presented for deliberation” during meeting near Ciudad Real this week. According to the report, ASAJA will demand to meet with regional officials this week.
“ASAJA has called for stricter controls in the sector: from preventing the entry into the market of wine made with non-viticultural by-products or alcohols, to monitoring the movement of wine and juice between different areas,” added the agricultural association.
“The ultimate goal is to avoid irregular practices or the repetition of fraud by certain operators in the sector,” added the group.
Bordeaux 2021 a “nostalgic” vintage: Derenoncout
The 2021 vintage in Bordeaux dates back to a time “before the crazy decade of over-extraction”, according to renowned French winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt. Speaking to Le Figaro this week, Derenoncourt explained that the 2021 vintage was an “all out war” against the elements, with “constant stress, especially in terms of mildew pressure, with real problems peaking in June “.
The Bordeaux consultant pointed out that vineyards on clay soils would have fared better than most and that, despite exceptionally difficult weather conditions, the 2021 vintage remains relatively successful.
“I’m sure people were expecting a mediocre vintage, but it’s actually a very technical vintage,” he said, before adding that he evoked a certain “nostalgia” for the years before the region embarked on more extractive winemaking (generally considered to have peaked in the late 1990s and early 2000s). he adds.
Derenoncourt’s estimate of the vintage matches that of David Allen MW of Wine-Searcher.com, who nonetheless felt little nostalgia for Derenoncourt:
“Some of the early comments I heard about the 2021 vintage suggested it was a more traditional, old-fashioned vintage,” he said last month. “These are not traditional, old-fashioned wines. Rather, they are modern wines made possible by careful oversight in the vineyard and cellar.”
Sherry: National fortunes struggle to compensate for export problems
Sherry has had a mixed first half of 2022, with domestic sales even beating pre-pandemic trends, while exports continue to look lackluster for the fortified southern Spanish wine region.
According to local newspaper El Diario de Jerez, national Sherry sales have soared in the first five months of 2022, with sales rebounding more than 36%, year-on-year, even outpacing volumes. before the pandemic. In 2019, for example, 5.4 million liters were sold on the domestic market, compared to 5.8 million liters (over the same period).
The resurgence is partly due to the return of Andalusian spring festivals and fiestas, on hiatus since 2020, as well as a broader rebound in the horeca sector (hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.).
The export story, however, is concerning. In the first five months of 2022, Sherry export volume to the UK fell by 50% while volumes to the US fell by 44%. Across Europe, the decline has been around 30%, but this varies considerably from country to country.
The year-over-year figures are sobering with volumes down 10% in Europe and 17% in the US.
“In Europe, the UK recorded the largest relative decline, down 18.3%, with 8.3 million liters sold between May 2020 and the same month this year,” the report said.
To join the conversation, comment on our social media.