The EU Department of Agriculture has advised that the EU’s wine grape harvest is at a historical low this year (since the EU started). Their latest advice was that the 2017 vintage has been anywhere from challenging to downright catastrophic across Europe, mainly due to wild weather.
There are a few countries which have had the news of slight increases in production, but these are mainly the ‘minnows’ of European wine, such as: Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic. With the only significant “positives” being reported for: Austria up 23% after a smallish 2016 and12% up on their 5-year average (Yum, more Grüner Veltliner to enjoy!), and Portugal who are 10% up on the previous vintage and 4% up on their 5-year average.
So how goes it for the ‘heavy hitters’ of the wine world?
FRANCE: Is having the lowest vintage in 60 years, and the second lowest (after 1957) since 1945. It started with massive spring hail storms across many of the grape growing areas and was compounded by persistent drought in the south-east. In addition, extremely heavy summer rain in other areas, such as Champagne, which caused a considerable amount of fruit to rot on the vine.
The impact for France is a decrease of around 17% in production or approximately 650 million litres of wine from this vintage. So roughly, they lost the equivalent to 50% of Australia’s 2017 production.
Whilst for most areas the impact in the volume of wine available for sale will occur within one to two years, for Champagne, the impact will be lesser due to the massive stocks of cuvées they have for making their non-vintage Champagne - so instead, there will be a more gradual decrease in volume.
ITALY: Currently the world’s largest wine producer, lost around 21% of their yield compared to 2016 due to weather phenomena. This amounts to almost 1,000 million litres of wine, or 75% of Australia’s total 2017 output. There were challenges across most of the growing regions at one time or another during vintage.
SPAIN: Their drop in volume is comparable to France with a reduction of around 650 million litres - again roughly half our annual output. Their woes were caused by icy conditions in April (spring) which led to lots of hail, which in turn was followed by summer drought.
So, basically Europe’s lost production is roughly twice what Australia produced this vintage – and then some! Yes, quite a lot of the production lost would have ended up in cheap “plonk” but a fair chunk of it was also premium and super-premium wine.
In almost all of these European wine growing regions they are saying “a much smaller crop, but excellent quality”. One has to wonder, whether it isn’t a similar case to a certain character in the Hunter Valley who in the 1980s and 1990s, declared every year “the vintage of the decade” (or sometimes century) even when the harvesters were bogged down in the vineyard!!
CHILE: Additionally, Chile, one of our main rivals in the Asian markets, especially in Japan where they are No.1 and we are No.6 (thanks to them signing their FTA four years before we did) has lower wine production due to the raging wild fires at the start of the year.
So the moral to the story is: If you are an Aussie winery, start cranking up your export sales plan! The opportunities over the next 12-24 months are going to be massive, as most of the Europeans either put up their prices to compensate for their 2017 vintage shortfall, or are unable to supply the volumes the market wants. BE READY!
BON CHANCE MON AMIS!!
THIS WEEKS WINE REVIEW: How sweet it is!
A while ago I reviewed the d’ARENBERG range of delightful dessert wines, which consisted of:
THE NOBLE ‘BOTRYOTINIA FUCKELIANA’ SEMILLON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 (Adelaide Hills) – and yes, they can put that on the label even though it might sound rude, because ‘Botryotinia Fuckeliana’ is actually the scientific name for Botrytis Cinerea.
THE NOBLE ‘WRINKLED’ RIESLING 2015 (McLaren Vale)
THE NOBLE ‘MUD PIE’ VIOGNIER ARNEIS 2015 (Adelaide Hills)
THE NOBLE ‘PRANKSTER’ CHARDONNAY SEMILLON VIOGNIER 2015 (McLaren Vale / Adelaide Hills)
In my opinion, they were all excellent dessert wines with some differences in style and nuances but all divinely delicious and worth raving about.
Well, some wine judges agreed with me because at the recent 2017 Royal Adelaide Wine Show, THE NOBLE ‘BOTRYOTINIA FUCKELIANA’ SEMILLON SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 scored the “Best Sweet White Table Wine” Trophy, to bring its tally up to three trophies and four gold medals. Not bad for such a “rude little wine”!
The next vintage, 2016 of THE NOBLE ‘WRINKLED’ RIESLING scored two trophies at the Riverina Sweet White Wine Challenge for “Best Sweet Floral” and then “Australian Sweet Wine of the Year”, plus it has a couple of gold medals as well!! www.darenberg.com.au