Wine production in the French region of Bordeaux shrank 40% last year, the Bordeaux wine council said on Wednesday, with severe frost sapping yields in a year that nonetheless produced a good vintage.
“The total harvest in 2017 was 3.5m hectolitres, down 40% on 2016,” the council said, adding that vineyards in Saint-Émilion had been the worst affected.
The final figures will be published this month and are expected to show that 2017 produced France’s worst wine harvest since 1945.
Vineyards found themselves coated in late frosts twice at the end of April, ravaging the fragile shoots and buds that emerged prematurely following an unusually mild March.
To try to warm the vines, some producers in Bordeaux set fires in oil drums and placed them between the rows of budding grapevines.
Vines in the north-eastern region of Alsace, which produces mainly white wines, were also hit by the frost, while those in the south suffered through an exceptionally dry summer.
There was a silver lining, however. While quantity was down, quality was up, meaning more enjoyment per bottle.