France Cuts Wine Outlook Third Time on Hail Damage in Champagne

France lowered its wine production outlook for a third time since July as the Champagne region forecast was reduced due to damage from summer hailstorms.

Volumes may rise 6.6 percent to 44.1 million hectoliters (1.16 billion gallons) from 41.4 million hectoliters in 2012, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in a report today. The forecast was cut by 374,000 hectoliters from a month ago, equivalent to 50 million bottles.

After a cold and wet spring hampered flowering, followed by hail damage in Burgundy and Bordeaux, France’s production of designated-origin wines is forecast to be little changed from a year earlier at 19.8 million hectoliters, the report showed. Output of wine for distilling and lower-priced generic wines is predicted to rise.

“The harvests are starting late, in September for those most advanced but for the most part the volumes should be gathered in October,” the ministry wrote.

The fungus botrytis is developing on white-wine grapes in Burgundy as well as grapes in Bordeaux, the Charentes region and France’s southwest, which may prompt growers to accelerate the harvest, according to the report.

In the Champagne region, production is still forecast to jump 43 percent from 2012, when vines supplying grapes for the bubbly wine named after the region suffered from frost damage, mildew and the fungus oidium. The region’s wine volume is predicted to jump to 2.82 million hectoliters from a previous outlook for 2.99 million hectoliters.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, based in Paris, is the world’s largest maker of champagne, with brands including Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon. Vranken-Pommery Monopole SA ranks second, followed by Pernod-Ricard SA and Laurent-Perrier.

2012 Vintage

France’s 2012 vintage was the smallest in more than four decades after grapes across the country suffered from drought, humidity, frost, disease and hail, with final output more than 10 percent below an initial forecast.

Volume in the Bordeaux region, France’s biggest producer of designated-origin wines, may fall 19 percent to 4.43 million hectoliters, unchanged from last month’s outlook.

Hailstorms in the Bordeaux region at the start of August damaged vines in the Libournais area that includes Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, as well as the Entre-Deux-Mers area. That caused losses estimated at about 78 million bottles.

The harvest of white-wine grapes is nearing completion in Bordeaux, while gathering of the red-wine grapes started at the end of September, the ministry wrote.

The outlook for Burgundy and Beaujolais was raised to 2.19 million hectoliters from 2.18 million hectoliters a month ago as September rain favored filling of grapes in Beaujolais, according to the report. The volume is expected to climb 21 percent from 2012.

In Languedoc-Roussillon, France’s biggest wine region by total volume, the outlook was unchanged, with production seen rising 10 percent to 13.2 million hectoliters.

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