After a successful 2014 crop, the wine industry is placing similar high hopes in the 2015 harvest season. Compared with 2014, this year is slightly early in terms of phenological ripening – the various stages vines and grapes go through during the annual growth cycle – due to the extreme heat in June and July across the whole of France.
Vineyards generally witnessed early veraison (the stage when the berries change colour and fill with sugar) and lower pressure from fungal diseases (usually caused by fungi that attack either the vine’s green parts or the trunk: black rot, powdery and downy mildew and noble rot, to name the most commonplace).
However, there were signs of water stress, which is necessary up to a certain point. Relief came for most vineyards in the form of rainfall and lower temperatures in August. The good news, therefore, is that the forthcoming harvest is shaping up extremely well and according to the French Planning and Statistics Service should produce 46.6 million hectolitres of wine this year, down 1% on last year.
In Burgundy, Alsace, Charente, Beaujolais and Champagne, the decline should be more significant due to the drought. Conversely, Languedoc-Roussillon is looking forward to a bumper crop. Jupiter is fickle, however, and his whims can make or break a harvest. Drought is always preferable to excessive rainfall. The first grapes are due to be harvested over the next few days.