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WINE

Britain goes wild for Burgundy wine served at royal wedding

A Chardonnay from a small vineyard in France's Burgundy region been flying off the shelves in Britain after wine lovers learned that it was served at last month's wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Britain goes wild for Burgundy wine served at royal wedding
AFP

The Olivier Leflaive estate in Puligny-Montrachet told AFP on Friday it had only learned that its Bourgogne Les Setilles was served to guests at the royal reception from media reports.

The Sunday Times, which revealed the newlyweds' choice, said the British wine merchant Lee & Wheeler sold 780 bottles in less than two hours after the news broke, and would have sold four times as much if it had the stock.

“We are so proud to have been part of such a special day! Congratulations Meghan & Harry!” the estate, which also has a hotel and restaurant, said on its Facebook page, inviting the royal couple to visit.

Bastien Gautheron, the vineyard's marketing director, described the Chardonnay as “the introduction to our line, the signature of the house”.

It sells its 2016 vintage, described on its web site as having “notes of white flowers, peach, grilled almonds and lemon zest”, for 17,80 euros (15.65 pounds, $20.95) a bottle, excluding shipping — the lower end of the price spectrum for Burgundy wines.

The 2015 vintage is also on the market currently, but Gautheron said he was not aware which year was served at the couple's evening reception.

He confirmed that international sales had risen since the wedding, while declining to say by how much.

And tourists visiting the estate have been picking up bottles “out of curiosity”, he said.

“There is a particular interest among the English, but it has an international appeal.”

According to The Sunday Times it was the only French wine served at the evening reception, whose menu has not been officially revealed by Kensington Palace, the couple's residence.

The official lunch menu mentions only a “selection of wines” along with Pol Roger Brut Reserve Non Vintage Champagne.

It was not the first time that British consumers have made a beeline for a French speciality that made it onto the royal family's menu.

Last September, sales of green lentils from the Puy-en-Velay region of south-central France soared after it emerged that Prince George, the oldest of Prince William and his wife Kate, would be eating them at his new school.

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FARMING

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

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