large swathe of the Bergerac wine region was struck by frost on April 17th as temperatures plummeted to below freezing. The cold snap followed several weeks of mild weather, worsening the damage to vineyards. Estimates of the damage caused range from around 30 percent to as much as 80 percent in some parts of the area which is home to such well-known appellations as Monbazillac and Bergerac itself. Technicians from the various producer and agricultural organisations are currently assessing the damage and specific administrative procedures have been set up for growers. Some of the more productive varietals such as Merlot may well produce new buds but the outlook is bleaker for other grapes, particularly white varieties such as Semillon or Sauvignon. Fortunately, some vines had yet to reach the bud burst phase and will therefore not have suffered from the cold spell. However, this will cause inconsistencies for future phases, particularly flowering and ripening, and will make disease-control more complicated.
Other areas of France were also affected by frost. These include Gironde, just west of Bergerac, Champagne and Muscadet. In Brittany, home to Muscadet and Gros Plant du Pays Nantais, vineyards were struck by frost at the beginning of April. Some growers in the Pays de Retz area are reported to have lost up to three-quarters of their crop. Although the vines themselves apparently came out unscathed, they will fail produce fruit, say growers.
Further west, the Loire Valley, from Chinon to Sancerre, was also affected as was Burgundy but there have been no reports of extensive damage so far. Despite being better equipped for cold temperatures, Champagne is reporting some loss of crop through frost. Low-lying areas in particular have been affected by temperatures that fell below freezing in April. Areas such as the Côte des Blancs and the Côte des Bar have been badly hit. It is still early days though as new buds may grow.