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Low yields characterise 2012 grape harvest

Published:  21 September, 2012

Lower yields are characterising the 2012 harvest around the globe, with producers from across Europe and South America stating crops are up to 15% smaller than usual.

France is experiencing its smallest harvest since 1991, although Bordeaux winemaker Gavin Quinney of Chateau Bauduc said that the yields in his area, while not huge "are not that bad". Bauduc has estimated they will make around one and a half bottles of white wine per vine.

Nearby Château Brown began its Sauvignon Blanc harvest on September 11. "After the very low 2011 yield with the white, I'm delighted to have produced enough this time round to satisfy my clients, although quality remains our primary objective," said Jean-Christophe Mau, co-owner and manager of the estate.

In the Beaujolais region the yields are estimated to be as low as they were in 2002, but winemakers remain confident about the grapes' quality. Inter Beaujolais said: "Although the 2012 harvest is expected to be low, the berries have been small and concentrated so the grape quality should be high."
Across the border in Spain, Bodegas Torres is also expecting excellent quality for harvest this year. Again, however, yields will be lower than normal with a loss in volume of around 15%.

Felix Solis and its subsidiary Pagos del Rey also face similar problems with yields, Charles Elms, director of Free Run Wines, which distributed Felix Solis, said:

"Although Felix Solis is predicting that the quantity of grapes harvested will be roughly 10% down on last year, the quality level of the grapes they are bringing in is very high."

In Spain's Navarra region Tandem wines are planning to harvest at the end of the month. Winemaker Alicia Eyaralar said: "The grapes have a good size but still show green tints. Probable alcohol was 12%. Same with the red varieties."

South America faced similar problems with smaller crop sizes. In Chile, Santa Rita said the hot weather put a lot of stress on the vines after veraison. Winemaker Andrés Ilabaca said Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc had been particularly sensitive to such stress, while Merlot and Chardonnay did not suffer.

In Argentina Dona Paula reported a series of unfortunate weather events having a marked effect on the 2012 harvest. Winemaker Edgardo del Popolo said: "The 2012 vintage will be recalled as one with low yields and grapes with great concentration of aromas and flavours."