(Paris) Unless there is a disaster before the harvest, French wine production is expected to be “at the average level” in 2023. Most wine-growing areas have withstood the ravages of climate and disease, with the notable exception of Bordeaux, hit by mildew.

“Wine production would be between 44 and 47 million hectoliters in 2023, at the average level” of the years 2018 to 2022, the ministry’s statistical service, Agreste, reported on Tuesday.

These harvest forecasts “are provisional in view of the uncertainty surrounding the consequences of attacks of mildew in the vineyards of Bordeaux and the South-West”, specifies Agreste.

Especially since the very first strokes of the pruning shears have just been given – last week in the vineyards of Fitou, in the south of France – and that the harvest is spread out until the beginning of autumn.

In the top three of world wine producers with Spain and Italy, France had produced more than 46 million hectoliters of wine in 2022 despite the exceptional drought of the summer.

“Bordeaux and the South-West are particularly affected by attacks of mildew”, a parasite that is half-algae, half-fungus. The leaves are covered with spots and wither, the grapes dry up until they are mummified and fall to the ground.

The development of this disease was favored by the association, in the spring, of high temperatures and thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rains.

A good harvest was announced at the start, but “the mildew has strongly [affected] the harvest, that’s for sure”, the director of communication of the Bordeaux Wine Interprofessional Council (CIVB) told AFP on Tuesday. ), Christophe Chateau.

The damage is still impossible to assess: mildew will not be more severe, but the vineyard may still suffer from bad weather between now and the start of the harvest expected in early September for the Sauvignon Blanc and mid-September for the Merlot (about 60% of the surfaces ), according to the spokesperson for Bordeaux wines.

The disease struck a vineyard in the doldrums, weighed down by overproduction. Nearly 10,000 hectares of vines (out of 110,000) are candidates for uprooting, after the harvest, to regulate supply and restore prices as part of an aid plan co-financed by the State and professionals .

The harvest begins this week in the Pyrénées-Orientales, near Rivesaltes and Calce.

Julien Thiery, head of the viticulture department of the local chamber of agriculture, expects a “historically low” harvest in the department, around 400,000 hectoliters (compared to 569,000 in 2022 and 756,000 in 2013) due to the drought.

Despite everything, on the scale of Languedoc-Roussillon, which also includes Aude, Gard and Hérault, “production should not stray too far from the average” of the last five years, notes the Agreste statistical service. .

Outside Languedoc-Roussillon and the South-West, “in most wine-growing areas, production would be above the five-year average or close to it”, estimates the statistical service.

In Champagne, “the grapes are well supplied” and the diseases “contained”. Burgundy was affected by episodes of hail, but the damage remained marginal: “The potential is promising, with numerous bunches, despite the pressure of mildew at times”, notes Agreste.

In Corsica, “if the weather conditions remain mild, we could have a very nice vintage in satisfactory quantity”, observes Nathalie Uscidda, director general of the island wine research center of the island (CRVI).

A thousand kilometers away, in Loire-Atlantique, “it should be a good harvest, a good volume”, also believes Gwenaël Barré, who notably produces Muscadet in Monnières.

However, “we always remain cautious as long as the harvest is not in the cellars: a storm, hail, there can always be a disaster. »

At home, the harvest is expected “at the very beginning of September” whereas it had started at the end of August last year: climate change has accustomed the winegrowers to increasingly early harvests.