2023 Vintage Report
As we all experienced, last year proved problematic for UK wine producers especially who endured a terrible and soggy end to harvest, meaning that whilst sparkling wines should fare ok, still wines were a challenge. The good news is that whilst most of Europe was a little shorter than last year, the effects were perhaps a little more muted than we witnessed on home soil.
France generally enjoyed a reasonable vintage, even given the changeable weather, which was very much welcomed in Burgundy, as it means a stabilisation of prices following some very short vintages. The Loire didn’t escape the bad weather, but luckily the big hitter regions of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé survived relatively unscathed. Bordeaux has reported a good vintage and Rhône Valley producers are confident the year will be marked by generous, full-bodied wines, despite the changeable weather they experienced.
Italy was definitely a more difficult vintage, with long periods of drought and severe hailstorms. This resulted in poor yields, following the effects of pest and disease. Like Spain, many Italian regions experienced some of the hottest and earliest vintages on record. However, with some inventory on hand, the shorter harvest won’t be too much of a distraction.
Spain was very up and down, with more drought and high temperatures. Rainfall at veraison also caused some issues. Whilst most regions coped with less than average yields, the Cava producers across the Mediterranean coast from Catalunya down to Valencia were exposed and have reported one of the worst vintages in history. Following two years of inflation, this makes it one of the most highly affected regions in the 2024 vintage.
The warmer climates of Greece and Lebanon proved a challenge with regards to water resource, but wines are looking good, even if volumes were not plentiful.
The rest of Europe enjoyed a reasonable (albeit quick) vintage, with the variable weather pushing different varietals to ripen at the same time, making it a bit of a logistical nightmare. However, reports across Germany, Austria and Hungary are generally positive, albeit in some cases under the average harvest and behind 2022 volumes. A mixed bag.
As for Australasia, New Zealand was very much a tale of two islands. The South Island fared well, but the North Island experienced severe weather patterns, which decimated regions, such as Hawkes Bay. Australia itself had a slightly shorter vintage, but given high inventories, this was welcomed in some cases. Australian Grenache continues to soar in popularity and is now the most expensive grape on the market.
South Africa experienced one of the smaller vintages in recent years, which along with rising energy costs and FX rate impact, makes it one of the most affected countries we deal with.
The exceptional performer in 2023 has to be the USA, with California growers speculating it could be one of the finest on record. Ripening was long and slow, creating perfect ripeness both in terms of sugar and phenolics, however, this also meant a slower decline in acidity, keeping pH’s especially low and acidity high, which will help yield generous wines with great balance. Growing conditions in cooler parts of the USA were slightly more temperamental, but nevertheless an excellent vintage can be expected.
Finally, South America is a mixed bag again. Chile came out relatively unscathed, albeit slightly down in volume and certainly producing lighter wines than previous years; however, Argentina suffered considerably with record low yields from Mendoza through to Patagonia, owing to plummeting temperatures and severe hailstorms.