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French wine production ‘around five-year average’, ministry reports

The production of French wine this year will be around the average for the previous five years, the French agricultural ministry has reported.

The ministry said that it expected the overall output of wine to be somewhere between 44 million and 47 million hectolitres on current projections, which would fall within the five-year average range of 44.5 to 46.1 million hectolitres.

There were more favourable outlooks in Champagne and Burgundy compared to Bordeaux, where disease has hit in 2023.

Weather across May and June created the conditions for mildew in Bordeaux and across the southwest of France’s vineyards, which meant that forecasts weren’t certain for those areas according to the ministry.

It comes as the ministry is also undertaking a survey on mildew with the objective of “learning as much as possible from this brutal attack on the harvest” to limit the risks in the future.

It said 2023 had been “once again marked by strong mildew pressure. Similar on the untreated controls to the years 2018 or 2021, it seems more exceptional by the unprecedented scale of the attacks on the treated plots, in particular of Merlot.”

The news follows a helpline set up by the local agricultural body in Bordeaux to help “traumatised” winegrowers deal with the devastating impact of a second bout of mildew.

According to The Telegraph, the French authorities felt the hotline was necessary due to the impact of two spells of humidity which have hit the wine-growing areas of Bordeaux, hitting Merlot and red varieties in particular.

The publication spoke to Nicolas Morain from MSA Gironde, the local department of France’s agricultural social mutual organisation, who has been working on the line since it launched on Wednesday.

He said there were calls from people “who are really in distress” and one of the grape-grower’s wives had called him in tears. Some of the operators on the line are social workers, it said, and those requiring professional help are directed to psychologists.

“Some have lost everything already.” he said, “We have never seen this – mildew spared no one this year” and that some wine-growers were even considering their careers due to the mildew, and it was “very traumatic” for those trying to control it.

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