Bordeaux winegrowers hail 2015 vintage

For lovers of a good red Bordeaux, 2015 is shaping up as a "magnificent" vintage, growers from the largest wine-producing area in France said on Thursday.

Bordeaux winegrowers hail 2015 vintage
It's looking like a good year for Bordeaux wine. Photo: AFP

The harvest kicked off with Merlot grapes, which are eventually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc to make the blended wine, and vintners are delighted.

“It is magnificent, much like the wonderful years of 2005 or 2010,” gushed Michele Bechet, owner of Chateau Fougas.

“The juice has a lot of flavour, the grapes have few seeds and a thick skin, they will give refined tannins,” she said of the substance in grapes that contribute to the feel of red wine in the mouth.

Stephan Von Neipperg, a German-born owner of wines from the regions of Saint-Emilion, Canon-la-Gaffeliere and La Mondotte, said he had “never seen” such dark-coloured juice from his grapes after only 12 hours of maceration, or soaking.

“We can already confirm that 2015 is going to be a great vintage,” he said.

He added that a scorching hot July, rainy August and sunny autumn were “just what was needed” for the promising harvest.

The good news from the vineyards coincides with news that the wine market in China — Bordeaux's main export client — has kicked off again after two years of plummeting sales

A crackdown on corruption by China's new leadership had hit sales of Western luxury goods — including top wines — as lavish gifts were often used to curry favour with officials.

Bordeaux wine board president CIVB Bernard Farges said on Wednesday there had been a “big revival” in the Chinese market in 2015.

“The country is so big that the smallest variations are, on our scale, very important,” he said.

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Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts