The perennial threats of frost, hail and rot did not diminish the quality potential of the 2018 vintage in France’s largest wine region. Those who had the resources and know-how to manage their vineyards (see this report from Ch St-Jacques d'Albas) were rewarded with good volumes of all the many varieties grown there.
Frost and drought resulted in an early, depleted harvest in the engine room of French viticulture. However, the condition of the fruit at harvest was generally very good, so the most quality-conscious estates have the potential to produce excellent wines. Whites are looking promising.
Generally warm and sunny throughout the summer with usefully fresh nights, though some regions suffered through lack of rainfall, resulting in smaller yields of concentrated juice. However, these dry conditions did at least result in reduced disease pressure, and quality is generally good across reds and whites, with high flavour intensity.
The harvest began on 7 August. The hot weather produced plentiful ripeness, and potential quality is considered to be very promising at the top end.
The Languedoc experienced cataclysmic hail storms in 2014, seriously compromising yield, but the Roussillon fared better and looks to have produced wines of balance, concentration and complexity at relatively low alcohol levels. Early start to the season but a cool, humid summer delayed harvest to average dates. Exceptionally productive Grenache after the coulure of 2013.
A tricky vintage in the south of France with yields of coulure-afflicted Grenache down 50-60%. Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan fared better and an Indian summer compensated for the cold wet spring, bringing the grapes to full ripeness. Cooler conditions generally resulted in fresher than usual whites from Viognier, Vermentino and Roussanne.
Described as the worst the Languedoc has seen for 22 years. Yields were low thanks to drought at one stage and mildew at another. Late, uneven ripening resulted in wines without fully developed varietal character in many instances. It certainly was not a complete disaster but overall the feeling is one of disappointment.
A rainier year meant that volumes were finally back to normal after three lean years – however, it also created a problem with rot in the vineyards. A difficult year but one that has produced some very well balanced, successful reds.
Quantity is down – again – but quality is good, with minimal rot thanks to dry, windy conditions in August and September.
A warm and smaller than average year, especially for whites. Quality is very high quality across the region.
Variable weather and drought in the summer made this a challenging year, but has created some concentrated, fruity and aromatic reds.
Very cool, grey summer left grapes struggling to ripen properly.
Relatively soft wines for medium-term drinking.
Almost great but rain at harvest time diluted the potential somewhat.
Traditional growing season. Very good, well-balanced wines that lasted well.
The heatwave resulted in some very strange musts with such low acids and such high sugars than some fermentations got stuck, resulting in sweetish wines. Definitely not for the long term.
Extremely variable. An unusually grey summer ended with disastrous floods in the Gard département in the far east of the region although many growers in the hills managed to make good wine.
Summer was so hot and dry that some vines shut down and stopped ripening. Rain in September was a relief for those who picked after it although the wines picked too early may be uncomfortably tough. White wines are particularly concentrated.
Devastating floods in November 1999 damaged some vineyards, as did storms in June and July but the summer was warm and dry (though not excessively so) and was followed by a prolonged harvest with some very good quality wine. Lovely, round, supple wines with ripe tannins.
An exceptionally dry winter was followed by heavy rainfall, and some hail in Roussillon, at the end of April. Wines are respectable but not as exciting as the vintages immediately before and after.
Very good, small crop.
Large crop, difficult season.
Large crop and a rainy summer which affected reds more than whites.
Excellent ripeness and concentration in reds, especially in the hills.
Probably France's most successful region: a small crop with real richness and concentration.
After a wonderful summer this was an exciting vintage.
Irregular quality inevitable after localised autumn downpours.
A really outstanding year of rich, dense and big-structured wines, especially in Roussillon.
Generous weather gave excellent wines that were fruity and delicious.