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French wine prices skyrocket following second small harvest

Published:  19 March, 2014

Two years of small harvests are taking their toll on French wine prices, with appellation wines up 18% on average on 2012.

According to the latest report from Agreste, the statistical arm of France's Ministry of Agriculture, those prices represent a jump of 25% on the average of the previous five years. The prices reflect the six months to January 2014.

The increases are due to bad weather in both 2012 and 2013 and poor availability. The 2013 French harvest is estimated at 42.3 million hectolitres - a historic low for the second year running. This figure is up 2% on 2012's very small harvest, but still 7% lower than the average of the previous five years. This small harvest has been directly affected by rain and coolness during flowering which led to problems of coulure and millerandage. Numerous hailstorms over the summer, rain and late harvests contributed to unusual levels of botrytis. Volumes of AOP wines were down 3% by volume on the previous year.

The problems have had the biggest impact on prices of Burgundian wines, which have climbed by 32% on 2012, and 51% when compared to the average of the previous five years.

In Bordeaux prices are up 20% versus 2012, and 23% if compared to the average of the previous five years. The region has received much attention this season, which is being described as at best "average". The 2013 en primeur campaign, set to kick off next month, has been blighted by a lack of interest from top wine writers, who aren't planning on attending. But some merchants believe that a poor campaign and lower prices might just be what Bordeaux needs.

Wines from Côtes du Rhône have gone up 12% (21% compared to the previous five year average) while Provence wines have climbed by 22% in a year and 38% over the five-year average.