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Mildew ravages Bordeaux vineyards

Published:  23 July, 2008

Vine mildew threatens to ruin Bordeaux's wine harvest, following 60 days of constant rain.

Some small vineyards particularly in the northern Mdoc have lost their entire crop to the plasmopara viticola, a wind-borne fungus that produces brown blotches on the leaves before spreading and rotting young grapes.

Organic vineyards have been hardest hit, unable to use chemical remedies, such as Bordeaux mixture (copper sulphate and lime), which has to be sprayed by hand as the ground is too boggy for heavy machinery. But even sprays have been washed away in the next rainfall.

Champagne, Beaujolais, the Loire and Rhne have also been affected.

While it is a disaster for many small growers, it may be a benefit for the French industry as a whole: a reduced 2007 harvest may push up wholesale wine prices depressed by a glut of cheap wine on the global market.

Huge unsold stocks of AC and table wines remain from the 2006 and 2005 vintages.