French 2015 grape harvest looking good


Yohan Castaing sends this English summary of the official Ministry of Agriculture report on this year’s grape-growing season in France. You can see it in full in French here.

With its early, hot summer, 2015 should be a good vintage for France. The harvest is likely to reach 46.6 million hectolitres, 1% less than in 2014 but 2% up on the average yield for the last five years.

A hot spring and early summer speeded up the phenolic cycle. The crucial period of véraison has already begun in most vineyards, thanks to the July heatwave.

Flowering took place in perfect conditions and coulure remains very low. In late spring many vineyards were attacked by black rot, downy mildew and powdery mildew – but the heatwave has limited their effects (except in the north east and in Champagne, where there has been powdery mildew).

With the exception of young vines and vines planted in sandy soils, the vines generally resisted the heat very well initially, although in some places the vegetation is now starting to show some signs of hydric stress. (I took this photograph in the Montrachet vineyard on Saturday – vines are looking good despite the unusual heatwave of last week – JR)

In Champagne, hydric stress has slowed vine growth and the coming week will be crucial to the volume and quality of the grape harvest. Pinot Meunier yields look likely to suffer particularly.

In Burgundy, water reserves have promoted good vine health and quantity, and there is no sign of millerandage.

In Beaujolais, some vineyards are suffering hydric stress, and the volume looks likely to be lower than last year. In Alsace too, the early-July heatwave has created significant water stress for young vines and for vines in sandy soils.

In Savoie, vine health is spot-on, while the Jura vineyards are battling powdery mildew.

In the Loire Valley, conditions are perfect and the yields should be good to very good.

In Bordeaux, flowering took place in perfect conditions and the vineyards are 10 days ahead of where they were this time last year. Black rot and powdery mildew attacks are over, and harvesting may start in August (see Bordeaux 2015 – a warm frontline report).

Further south west, the vines are 15 days ahead of schedule, and there is no hydric stress thanks to some rain during the spring.

In Languedoc-Roussillon, despite some very hot temperatures in July, hydric stress has not yet reared its head. In the Gard, some black rot has been reported.

In the south east, flowering took place in perfect conditions, promising an excellent vintage in both quantity and quality.

In Corsica, flowering was perfect and 2015 should be a very good vintage.