The heavy cost of severe spring frosts
As we edge towards summer, it is all too easy to forget that much of Northern Europe suffered devastating spring frosts only a matter of weeks ago. A lack of cloud cover over many of Europe’s vineyards on several consecutive nights in early April allowed Jack Frost to wreak havoc on vines, freezing and killing a significant amount of young buds. This means that 2021 looks set to be exceptionally difficult for European wine producers with significant reductions in yields and the likelihood that wine from certain regions will be harder to come by and more expensive.
France was particularly hard hit with considerable losses being reported, from Chablis to Provence, and Bordeaux to Champagne. In the Loire Valley, for example, there are estimates that between 40 and 80% of this year’s crop has been lost with the worst affected grapes being the varieties that bud early. This is despite the fact that grape growers across France scrambled to mitigate frost damage using heaters, straw fires, sprinklers and wind machines in a bid to rescue their crops. You may remember seeing a host of atmospheric photos on social media of glowing vineyards lit by anti-frost candles.
However, while the most prestigious premier cru sites have the means to invest in these labour-intensive, expensive frost prevention methods, less well-known wine growers can’t afford high levels of frosts protection when spring night-time temperatures fall below zero. As the cost of insurance was prohibitively high, a significant number of producers also didn’t have cover. They were already struggling financially as the result of Covid 19 and the US tariffs that Donald Trump imposed on French wines during his stint at the White House.
Wine regions outside France also impacted by the freezing conditions include pockets of northern and central Italy. That said, initial reports suggest that there will not be a significant drop in production for Italy’s 2021 vintage as a whole.
If you love French wine as much as we do, why not give French wine makers and grape growers in the affected areas a boost by choosing some of their exquisite wines? In the related products section below, you can click on wines crafted by some of the French producers who have been hit by the recent disastrous cold spell. Its effects have been so far-reaching throughout the nation that you’ll find a whole host of classic French wines and regions to choose from, including Chablis, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Sancerre, Bordeaux, Aude and Burgundy. In addition, it is worth bearing in mind that we fully expect to see significant price increases taking effect for new vintages as French producers struggle to meet demand. So, before any price rises take effect, this is without a doubt the time to stock up on all of your French favourites.