'Catastrophe' for wine lovers as Chablis crop ruined
Wine lovers will be paying through the nose for a bottle of Chablis this year and next thanks to abysmal weather that has decimated the regional vineyards in France.
Hailstones the size of golf balls pelted the Chablis region, about 200km south of Paris, last month. It was the final nail in the coffin of this year's crop following unseasonable frosts and rain in April.
More than 1,000 acres of prized Chardonnay vineyards, especially in the southwest of the region, were all but destroyed by poor weather which also hit the Cognac and Beaujolais-producing region of Burgundy, prompting the French farming federation to declare a state of "catastrophe".
Robert Smith, owner of Dublin wine importers Mackenway Distributors which supplies many independent wine shops, said the hailstones put paid to any hope of recovery in the Burgundy region which has suffered from poor yields over the past few years.
Crops were down in Burgundy - where Chablis is located - by 30pc in 2013 and 2014, and 10pc last year, he said.
"Now this hit while they were getting back to normal. This will force the price up quite a bit," he told the Irish Independent.
He anticipates wine buyers will be paying an extra €2 per bottle for this year's vintage, which will be in short supply.
But because it will take a few years for the vines to recover, the price of Chablis will remain high for the next two to three years, he said.
Even last year's vintage will be more expensive due to supply and demand, he said.
"2015 was a great vintage but it hasn't been released yet - but it will get caught up in price increases," he said.
He advised people to stock up now.
Kevin O'Callaghan, wine buyer for Musgraves/Supervalu, said he expected a bottle of Chablis that normally retailed for between €12 and €14 would increase in price by about 30pc to a starting price of between €14 and €16.
But wine drinkers should brace themselves for other price hikes as many other wines in the region have also been affected.
The Burgundy region and some areas of the Loire Valley had very poor yields this year due to adverse weather which will also affect the cost of popular wines like Sancerre.
"The impact is going to be significant," he said.