The 2022 wines are likely to arrive more quickly in our cellars. In many wine-growing areas of the country, the high temperatures accelerate the ripening of the grapes and force the harvest to be brought forward by one to three weeks. In Hérault and Haute-Corse, the 2022 harvest has even already begun.
“We were all a little surprised, the maturity has evolved very quickly over the last few days”, recognizes François Capdellayre, president of the cooperative cellar Dom Brial in Baixas (Pyrénées-Orientales), who had to take out his tools on August 3 in precipitation. “In more than 30 years, I have never started my harvest on August 9”, is also surprised Jérôme Despey, winemaker in Hérault and general secretary of the agricultural union FNSEA.
Above 38 degrees, the grapes “burn”
The heat wave also accentuated the effects of the current exceptional drought: even if it is resistant, able to draw water with its deep roots, the vine is suffering even in regions such as the Center or the Val-de-Loire. When it lacks water, it dries out, becomes blocked: “water stress” causes it to lose its leaves and it stops feeding its clusters and berries, which shrink in size.
When the temperature also exceeds 38 degrees, the grapes “burn, they are dry, they lose volume and quality”, the heat raising the degree of alcohol to a level “too high for consumers”, explains Pierre Champetier, president of the IGP of Ardèche. For the later varieties (Grenache, Cabernet), there is still the hope of having rain to make the grapes grow. Storms are expected this weekend all over France, but it will surely be “not enough” to preserve the “pretty vintage”, fears the CIVB.
Small harvest in Alsace, expected vintage in Champagne
In the Rhône Valley, the heat wave “caused an advance in maturity of more than 20 days compared to last year”, indicates the Inter-Rhône interprofession, which however ensures that the quality of the wine will be there. . The same hope for the Champagne Committee (CIVC), which plans to start in the last ten days of August and shows its confidence in the quality of the vintage, the losses due to frosts and hail having only dented 9% of the potential. .
In Bordeaux, we are counting on “the week of August 25” for crémants, which will open the ball. “The dry whites, the sweet whites and finally the red will follow”, underlines Christophe Château of the Bordeaux Wine Interprofessional Council (CIVB). In Alsace, where it has not rained “a drop for two months”, “we will have a very, very small harvest”, regrets Gilles Ehrhart, president of the association of winegrowers of Alsace (AVA), which plans to give the first pruning around August 26th.