Smaller Harvest, Better Quality?
|Author: Neil Bull||Published: 25th September 2012 16:21|
Smaller harvest, better quality?
As northern hemisphere wine growers start the annual harvest it appears that many are expecting a much smaller crop.
French agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll said that the French harvest will be 'exceptionally low' at around 42.5 million hectolitres,( the lowest volume since 1991 ) compared to 51 million last year. Whilst the mood in Burgundy is somewhat subdued, in Bordeaux they are more upbeat as the quality appears to be significantly superior to that of 2011.
Beaujolais yields are expected to be as low as they were in 2002, but growers in the region point out that the berries are smaller and more concentrated and are expecting the resulting wines to be of very good quality.
In Italy the crop is down 3.5% on 2011, but the quality of the crop appears mixed throughout the country. In Piedmont, North West Italy, a cool spring, then a hot, sultry summer, followed by cooler early autumn appears to have had a very positive effect on the all important Nebbiolo, while the Dolcetto has not fared as well. In central Italy the Sangiovese grapes, due to the lack of water, are expected to be very concentrated, rich in tannins and colour and with a high potential alcohol.
Germany's wine harvest is likely to be close to 2011 levels, with the moderate temperatures during 2012 allowing for a consistent ripening of the grapes.
In Portugal, of the country's top three regions,only the Douro harvest looks like it will be higher than 2011, with that of the Dao and Alentejo falling.
In Spain a dry summer followed by drought throughout much of the country means growers are predicting output to be down 15-20% on 2011. As befits a large country there are large regional variations. Navarra is predicting a fall of only 5% against 2011 levels while in Ribera del Duero it looks like being nearly 15% smaller. However, signs are that the quality of the grapes is much higher this season.
Austrian wine growers predict a lower quantity but higher quality of their grapes. They were hit by frost and hail in the spring and a series of late frosts in May, but the fruit that survived appears to be of exceptional quality.
Even South America has not escaped the unsettled weather that has characterized the 2012 harvest. In Chile an extended bout of extremely hot weather just after veraison ( the point where the grapes change colour and the ripening period starts to accelerate ) put extra stress on the vines. Varieties such as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon suffered badly whereas Chardonnay and Merlot appear to be unaffected.
Argentina also suffered low yields but the winegrowers report that the grapes have great concentration of aromas and flavours.