2023 Harvest Details for Wines of Provence a Challenging Season
France was the most significant wine country in Europe in 2023. However, the growing season was not without its challenges this year.
Italy, France, and Spain are usually the three largest wine-producing countries. Since France, relatively speaking in the “average” between the regions, has done well while the other countries have had problems, France could become the most prominent European wine producer in 2023.
France’s Harvest Details
The French wine harvest estimate is 44.5 million hectolitres, roughly the average for the last five years, but there are significant variations between different regions. Regions that coped well with the weather’s forces and had the “water reservoirs” replenished after the drought in 2022 had increased harvests; these included the Loire, Burgundy, and Alsace. However, the regions that had major problems during the year are South-West France with Bordeaux, which was affected by leaf mould, mainly downy mildew, and also hail, and southern Languedoc and Roussillon, which still have an extreme drought which threatens to kill the vines.
2023 Wines of Provence
Precipitation: France suffered from an arid year in 2022, a trend that continued in 2023. Southern France, including Provence, was especially affected. By the middle of March, irrigation restrictions were introduced in Provence, such as not being allowed to fill your pool, wash your car at home, watering only during the night or a total ban on watering except for vegetable gardens, no showering on the beaches, etc.
The wine farmers of Provence and everyone else waited for rain as the rainfall in the first four months of the year was only 63 mm, against the “normal” 220 mm. The month of May delivered torrential rain, causing landslide warnings and, in some places, hail storms. After the rainy months of May and June, it was dry until the last weekend in August when there was a thunderstorm with 20 – 30 mm of rain. The rain arrived in the middle of the harvest period.
Heat: Every month in 2023 has had temperatures above average, especially in July and August, which are essential for grape ripening, stand out with high temperatures. Several heat waves hit Provence with temperatures up to 41 degrees, and that’s when the harvest began around August 20! September continued the same way with temperatures above average, i.e., with temperatures of just over 30 degrees with a maximum of 34.5 degrees 1½ weeks into the month.
Harvest Time: It is not only vines and grapes that feel bad during heat waves but also the harvest workers. Harvest work in the afternoon was not possible due to the heat. The heat impacts the quality of the grapes and the health of the harvest workers. So, an early start of the harvesting work before first light is essential; alternatively, harvesting mechanically before the sun rises.
Göran Boman, the author of The Wines of Provence – Tricolour, is based in Sweden, far from Provence’s vineyards. His studies at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology led to a career with large international companies. Before retiring, Göran monitored the quality of nuclear fuel transmitted from EDF France to Sweden.
About 25 years ago, he joined Munskänkarna (“Cup-bearers”) for wine tastings and education. The association is the world’s largest non-commercial wine-tasting group with 30,000 members, mainly in Sweden and Provence.
If you love Provencal wines, his book should be an essential reading for you. Göran Boman covers 58 wine producers in his book and recommends 338 wines, not just rosé wines. Use the book as a guide to discovering these wines and their producers. His goal is to deepen your knowledge of everything worth knowing about the wines of Provence.