France prepares for devastating frosts

Deja vu for French producers in our weekly roundup, and an NBA star’s post-game future looks rosy.

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| Pots of frost illuminate the vineyards of France as winemakers again battle frost.

Last year frost wreaked so much havoc on French vineyards that what happened was the smallest harvest in half a century – and it could happen again.

While some producers fear history will repeat itself, producers elsewhere in Europe – and further afield – are also facing new challenges, including war, oversupply and basketball players. Let’s take a look at some of the wine stories of the week that you may have missed.

France on frost alert this weekend

Exactly a year after the devastating spring frosts of 2021, France was bracing for a cold snap again this weekend, with potential frost nights forecast for Saturday, Sunday and Monday evening across the country. According to models published by French meteorologist Dr Serge Zaka, only the west of the country (covering Bordeaux, Cognac and west of the Loire) and the very southern regions of Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon are ready to avoid frost. .

However, the cold spell is unlikely to be as devastating as that of 2021. While buds have burst on the vines in some areas, the country has not experienced the same level of warm weather as last year.

“Most of it is still cotton [meaning the new growth had not yet burst from the buds]“, told a winemaker from Givry to Wine-Searcher.com, “and we pruned late this year so as not to be frosty. “

Late pruning has been one of the recommended (and often used) tactics to delay early vine growth to better weather the spring frost season.

However, other factors also hamper potential frost control efforts. According to French wine news site Vitisphere.com, winegrowers have seen insurance costs rise since 2021 and agricultural diesel (key fuel in an antifreeze pot – and a minor environmental disaster) is hard to come by due to of the resulting energy crisis. by the conflict in Ukraine.

“The north of France (Alsace and Champagne) has not yet seen budburst,” said Zaka. He added that the risk factors of varieties with early bud burst were high “in the Loire Valley (less in the Pays Nantais [Muscadet]with 20 to 30% damage than in Touraine with 40 to 70% damage), in Beaujolais, [and] Dijonnais [Burgundy]. For Bordeaux and Cognac there is less risk with the Atlantic coast less likely to be affected but, towards the eastern areas, around 30-40% potential losses. »

Heading into the weekend, risk factors have been revised upwards, with Chablis and the Loire Valley at high risk of severe frost on Sunday evening, when temperatures could drop to -4C (25F ) in the Burgundy region. According to Zaka, the whole region from the Rhône to the Mediterranean is in the hands of the Mistral, the well-known wind that blows in the valley: “if it stops [blowing]temperatures will drop to between -3 and -4C,” he said.

“All that remains is to light the pots of frost…and a votive,” a producer told Vitisphere.com.

Baller joins forces with owner of Cos d’Estournel

After learning he was considering his own brand of wine, superstar basketball player Tony Parker shed some light on his new wine venture. The French-born sportsman has teamed up with luxury hotel magnate Michel Reybier, buying a share of the latter’s 100-hectare (250-acre) wine estate, Château La Mascaronne, in southern France.

No points for guessing that the estate is in Provence and produces a rosé (as well as a red and a white) – if there’s one thing famous wine brands aren’t usually, it’s adventurous. According to reports, Parker has also invested in the Reybier champagne house, Jeeper & Reybier.

According to the news agency Reuters, Parker said he was “determined to invest myself alongside him (Reybier) and take these exceptional wines and champagnes to the next level”.

One of the 500 richest people in Europe, businessman and entrepreneur in the luxury hotel industry, Michel Reybier is also the owner of the super second Bordeaux (growth), Château Cos d’Estournel, which he acquired in 2000. Reybier bought Château La Mascaronne in 2020 and embarked on a joint venture in Champagne with Domaines Jeeper in 2013.

French-American Parker, who retired from the National Basketball Association in 2019, was first drafted to the San Antonio Spurs in 2001. During his career with the Spurs, he won the NBA championship at four occasions.

Australian winemakers shed fruit as trade stutters

Best of times and worst of times in Australia’s vast Murray Darling region this year with ‘smiling’ table grape growers in the perfect conditions of strong export demand and a bumper harvest in 2022. This is not the case, however, for some of the region’s winemakers where a perfect storm of slow wine exports due to the global pandemic (and its effect on trade routes), the effects of trade between the australia and china and a weak economic climate have seen grape prices crash.

According to local media The Weekly Times, a winemaker near Mildura was filmed throwing his Shiraz crop onto the ground. “I walked the first 10 acres and I will do the other 10 today,” he said.

According to Paul Derrico, general manager of Murray Valley Winegrowers Incorporated (MVWI), wine grape prices have halved in the past two years.

“As we expected, everything is coming to a head now that the reds are ripening or overripe,” added MVWI President Chris Dent. “No wineries were active in the spot market.”

According to The Weekly Times, Australia’s National Association of Wine Grapes and Wine Growers (AGW) said the closure of the Chinese market, freight shortages and a weaker 2021 vintage had converged to create a worrying imbalance between the ‘Offer and demand.

Castilla-La Mancha drives quality

The Spanish government is set to ratify the so-called ‘Grape and Wine Law’ – a series of measures aimed at boosting the high-volume wine sector in Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha wine region – ahead of the summer, she emerged.

The law aims to give winemakers and producers greater flexibility in terms of producing foreign grape varieties “to adapt to consumer demand” without “forgetting” about native plants (whatever that means). Indeed, while the bill seems eminently laudable, parts of it are clearly questionable.

According to most news outlets around the country, part of the law includes a further expansion of wine sector self-regulation – a move that may seem benign but, given the huge regional row (and accusations of fraud ) between two major wine producers in Valdepeñas last year, surely a more independent regulator is needed?

In addition, “questions relating to oenological practices and procedures for the treatment of geographical indications will be relaxed”, indicates the online media El Diario.

Other measures include greater promotional funding for bottled wine (a sector that generates four to five times the value of bulk wine sales – an important part of the region’s wine business) and traceability – a evolution which could include the use of blockchain technology and digital tracing.

Castilla – La Mancha has 85,000 winegrowers and 600 wineries and cooperatives. Wine exports from the region have doubled over the past 20 years, accounting for 55% of Spanish wine exports. According to El Español, the new law is part of the 2019 Strategic Plan for the wine sector of Castilla-La Mancha.

Australian town bans ‘goon bag’ wine

A remote coastal town in Western Australia is testing a five-day ban on 4-litre cask wines, known as “goon bags” after their internal bladders which are regularly removed from their packaging for consumption. Police in Geraldton, more than 400km (260 miles) north of Perth, made the decision after a spike in alcohol-related violence

“We’ve had an increase in violence and anti-social behavior along the foreshore,” local police chief (acting senior sergeant) Stuart Gerreyn told the local newspaper, the Geraldton Guardian.

As a result, a five-day ban on four-liter barrels of Fruity Lexia and Tawny Port is in place this weekend. Additional restrictions on sales of two-litre cask wines (one cask per person per day) are also in place.

“Fruity Lexia and Tawny Port are popular cask wine brands that offer punters a sweet-tasting, highly concentrated alcohol at a low price,” national outlet News.com.au said.

The ban, however, does not include tourists, farm workers and miners who plan to consume the elixirs out of town.

War in Ukraine costs Spanish wine

The war in Ukraine could hit Spanish wine exports to the tune of 91.3 million euros ($100.8 million), according to analysts of the country’s wine market. Spain’s Wine Market Observatory (OEMV) originally said the dispute, now in its second month, could cost the country’s wine sector around 40 million euros in lost revenue, but has since revised that figure on the rise after taking into account the indirect transfer of wine, must and vinegar mainly to the Russian Federation.

According to the OEMV, “Spanish wines, musts and vinegars go to Russia, not only directly but, to a large extent, via Latvia and Lithuania. Moreover, a significant part of the wine sold in Russia by other countries producers such as Italy, France and Germany, is made with a very large quantity of wine imported from Spain in bulk, which can legally be re-exported as wine from the European Union.

Although its initial figure of around 40 million euros was mainly driven by the value of direct sales to Ukraine and Russia, the OEMV now estimates that the combined volume of direct and indirect exports to the two countries is amounts to 98.2 million liters of wine, at a cost of over €91.3 million. This would represent just under 3% of Spanish exports in value (and just over 3% in volume).

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