Too Dry! Drought Conditions in the French Vineyards
Göran Boman, the author of The Wines of Provence – Tricolour, wrote the article below. Based in Sweden, far from Provence’s vineyards, he has visited many times, and his knowledge of the vineyards and wines of the region is impressive. Below is an excerpt from an article he wrote earlier this year about the dry conditions, unseasonable hot temperatures and how the French vineyards are coping.
Almost all of France has experienced severe drought conditions in 2022. Before the official start of summer, 25% of the departments are experiencing different degrees of irrigation restrictions! The winter was dry, and already in February, winegrowers were urged to irrigate. Those who did then are probably grateful today because from May 1 until the harvest, there is a ban on irrigation in AOP vineyards, unless you get an exemption, but then it must also be allowed considering the water supply!
The worst affected are the southern Rhône valley, Provence, and Corsica, where during the year in some parts, there was as little as 70 mm of precipitation against “normal” around 270 mm. But Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, and Cognac are also affected. The wine regions that have done best are Aude and Hérault in Languedoc, which received 200 – 400 mm of rain.
Already at the end of April, Gilles Masson, head of the Center du Rosé Recherche et Expérimentation, warned that Provence rosé wine production could decrease by 10% due to the drought has not improved since April. At the end of May, temperatures in Provence reached 32.7 ℃, which means that any precipitation evaporates quickly.
As drought has become common in Provence, the INAO authority now makes it possible to experiment with new grape varieties, such as the domestic Rousseli (formerly Rosé du Var) and Caladoc, which is a cross between Grenache and Malbec. “Foreign grape varieties” are also included in the experiments, such as the Greek red grapes Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro and the rosé grape Moschofilero, the Italian red Nero d’ Avola and the white Spanish Verdejo. Continue reading here for Göran Boman’s original article and some strategies that winemakers use to counter dry conditions.