GDP on Wine

Snooth User: NiagaraWiner

Article: Worst grape harvest in half century in Europe leaves some vineyards high and dry

Posted by NiagaraWiner, Oct 17, 2012.

Thought some of you might be interested in this article I came across this afternoon. Any thoughts?




Reply by EMark, Oct 17, 2012.

Interesting.  This report is consistent with the article that JonDerry cited a few days ago.  Other posters on that thread commented that the 2012 California harvest looked very promising.  This disaster in Europe will suppor prices high for California growers and winemakers.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 17, 2012.

Yes, thanks for posting NW...interesting that quality is expected to be high. Indeed 2012 was a wine for CA, but 2010 and 11 weren't so good. While the other article might've focused on the effects of cheap wine, I'm curious as to how the fine wine or luxury sector will be affected with not a whole lot to be excited about in France over the next couple years.

Viva la 2013 en primeur, they must be due!

2012 Epic Harvest for US producers

Reply by GregT, Oct 17, 2012.

I don't know why people are concerned with this.

First, a bad harvest doesn't equate to a bad vintage. The bulk producers aren't happy, but in some areas it was actually very dry and warm after a dry winter. As a consequence, the berries are small and concentrated, so tonnage is down. But concentration is up and consequently, there will likely be some fine wines in places like much of Spain.

In places where they had water, it's not so good. But wet weather and a bad vintage in north France do not mean bad wines everywhere in the entire continent.

Second, there's no shortage of wine. There's still a lot from prior vintages that's unsold, so whatever "shortfall" there may be, if any, is going to be easily absorbed by the existing unsold stocks. And there has been a good harvest in Mendoza, most of Australia, California and even places like Missouri.

Finally, many of those growers in the south of France who are complaining are the ones who sold their juice to bulk wineries and who've been encouraged to grub up their vines anyway. So it's not like there's going to be a shortage of cheap, insipid wine.  Bordeaux has had the vintage of the century a few times in the last few years, so let them sit on this one. From what I hear, it's going to be a year of very green Cabernets.  But winemaking will offset a lot of that anyhow. 

The people with the worst of it are probably the English growers.  And about their wine, well . . .

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 18, 2012.

My bigger worry is that without yet another vintage of the century to hype (really might as well just be a big harvest that they need to push), there will be less incentive to discount the last couple of vintages of the century to make room.  So, having now exhausted the supply of discounted 2004 Brunellos and 2005 Bords at my discounters and other places, I might have to buy less-discounted 2006 and 2007 Brunellos.  (I've decided I'm done with Bordeaux, thanks--too much disappointing value wine and the "growths" are just out of my range.) 

Except we now have '07 and '09 cabs sitting on the shelves as people anticipate those '12s, and probably some '09 Rhones that will be available as people foolishly buy '10s pre-arrival. ;-)

Okay, so I'm not very worried.  And I still haven't spent much time exploring the southern hemisphere. Those Aussie GSMs deserve another look, and a good S. African chenin can be tasty and reasonable.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 18, 2012.

I'm with you on Bordeaux Fox, think my palate is moving away from that style anyway. Definitely enjoying Burgundy and Germany more these days, and the too often neglected Piedmont needs to enter the rotation also, gotta make room somehow. Now, to deal with those bottom level Right Bank Bord Garagiste purchases <insert mad face>

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 18, 2012.

Drink 'em.  I just had a Pre La Lande over the last couple days.  It was fine, though not as good as JR hyped it to be--what could? But it was about $8 a bottle, if I recall, and it was good and juicy.  Really a perfect Tuesday slurp, when I am just not into cogitating too much.  I don't know if I could drink wines as good as OT does, who seems to find these $20-30 wines that drink like about three times as much.  I just don't have the stamina for that much sensory enjoyment every night.  Plus I have those college educations to save for still, so a few $8 quaffers fill out the week, thank you.

Hmm, seem to be making the case for cheap Bordeaux, but my point is not to think of it as special.  That Pre La Lande was oak-free, simply, kind of chianti like in its acidity, but not quite the edge of sour and bitter cherries.  So, inexpensive wine, not really Bord.

Reply by zufrieden, Oct 18, 2012.

As usual, I am with the wisdom of not  over-generalising on the merits of any vintage; there are simply too many micro-climates and human interventions to discount everything at one blow. For example, I have had many hedonic returns - and anticipate many similarly happy hedonic returns - from the much maligned 2007 Bordeaux.  If you think the 2005 discounts are good (and this is a much more balanced vintage than 2009), you should see what you can get for 2006 through 2008. Try not to feel guilty enjoying the prices.  The 2007 vintange wines are delicious for early consumption if purchased with some prudence, so don't hold back.

For those of you who hate the price situation (and who can blame you?), moving the palate register a notch toward New World might be a good financial decision.  And let's face it: these wines are delicious in their own right; I'm just not sure if I can give up the Bordeaux just yet.  The good news is that I sense a price correction coming so you might want to put aside a few quid for that...


Reply by napagirl68, Oct 24, 2012.

UUUGGHH!   harvest does not equate outcome~! 

Recent reports in CA report a prolific harvest!  GREAT!  Now whoever buys these grapes must know WTF to do to turn them into great wine.. if they are indeed wine-worthy.

Just because there is a lower harvest in Europe does not mean a bad vintage.  It means a SMALLER supply.  This does not denote quality, but rather quantity.

Either lot could have challenges to face before making into wine, so we will have to see.  If Europe makes a grand wine out of a small lot, expect to pay a small fortune.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 24, 2012.

As I was reminded this summer, during flights and train rides lasting several hours, even on high speed trains and modern jets, Europe is a big place.  Although we were there in the hottest part of the summer, and it was plenty hot, Italy is not France is not Spain, and within those places things vary as well.  I completely left out Austria and Germany, too. 

I wouldn't get unduly worried about prices, either.  First of all, Europeans are becoming more like Americans, sadly.  They are drinking less wine by most estimates, and my observation is that, if they work, while less pressured than Americans, they are living in a less leisurely way.  Folks with no jobs won't be competing for the better bottles of wine as a rule, and unemployment is quite high in many places.  Sadly, they are also drinking more Coke and the like--habits that form early in life and are then hard to lose.  (Frequent consumption of sodas, even diet ones, permanently affect taste development, IMO.  The satisfying of the simple sweetness impulse holds the senses from developing in more diverse ways that they would need to develop if sugar wasn't readily available in unadulterated form.  Fruit juices in abundance aren't much better.)

Then, sadly, there's the Euro problem.  I'm not going to take a stand, although I have an opinion on who is right and who is wrong.  I will say this, half-jokingly:  Germany could buy up all the excess wine with its budget surplus, and it might be a win-win:  Revive the economies of the south and make it more palatable for tight-fisted Germans in the process. Given the current impasse, the economies there will keep suffering, and that means that Spain, Portugal, and Italy will continue to sell in dollar and pound markets because that's where the money is, and as a currency hedge.  Greece is toast:  I expect their output to go way down and wineries to collapse because they cannot get credit and the producers don't have deep pockets.  In the meantime, deals on Spanish wine, which was finally getting a foothold, will abound, small harvest or not. 

BTW, WS is trumpeting the '09 Napa as the 4th straight "Great" vintage in a row.

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 24, 2012.

Don't think anyone was saying the sky is falling in the world of wine, just some interesting things afoot in Europe this year and perhaps in the next couple of years. Wouldn't mind if the prices fell a bit though ; )

Good synopsis, Fox I generally agree...would include Hungary, Croatia and maybe some others if Austria is being mentioned.

Noticed that WS article on 09' Napa Cabernet. I'm liking the idea of 09' being a cooler year in Napa, but not too cold, perhaps encouraging a lot of the winemakers up there a to throttle back a bit. No doubt 11' and maybe 10' gave even more opportunity, but there always seems to be enough sun in CA to ripen Cabernet. It really seems to come down to the winemakers and micro-climates every year. 

When was the last horrible vintage in Napa anyway?

Reply by napagirl68, Oct 24, 2012.

When was the last horrible vintage in Napa anyway?


Reply by GregT, Oct 25, 2012.

Funny because I really like some of the 2006 wines. Same in Ribera del Duero - 2006 wasn't considered "great" in either place but because nature didn't give them the ripe opulence, they had to throttle back a little on some of the excess and some people turned out some really great wines.

The 2006 Dunn is pretty magnificent and he's not one to push the limits anyway.

Fox - you're entirely right about Europe being a big place. I've posted before that at roughly 200K square miles, France and Spain and CA are huge with many microclimates. North Spain is green and wet, most of it is desert and in some areas there's a moderating influence from the sea. France is similar but w/out the extreme heat and dryness. CA is actually pretty cold thru the summer on some of the coastal areas, whereas 20 minutes away you have dry heat. Anyplace that has mountains will be hard to generalize about.

All that said, you can have very large general patterns due to things like el Nino and the various ocean currents, etc., and it seemed like that's what they had in western Europe in 2002, 2003, and again in 2012. But again, a small harvest doesn't mean bad grapes, and people can do near-miracles by judicious selection of grapes and careful vinification. Besides, we really need a break from all those best vintages of the century!


Reply by CheloSpahn, Oct 25, 2012.

I completely agree with Greg, about a month ago I tried some Rioja's, Chateneuf du pape's, porto's, chiantis, barolos, brunello's etc and they weren't that Bad. Rich-full bodies, nice tanins, fruits and wood-like flavors (obviously make the diferentiation between each grape specificity).

If we are going to talk about 2012 harvest we will have to wait some years to really know if  can call it the "worst harvest", eventually some will say it's going to be bad and some will say it's not going to. Considering I live in Colombia, a country that doesn't have the wine references you guys have in USA, Canada or elsewhere or the wine education you cand find in other countries, I can say here between Old wine regions and new wine regions, Spain and france continue to have more "image" refering to wine quality (we have to take into account that the first wines that arrive here were Chilean and Argentinian) but USA wines (specially Oregon and Napa) are starting to make a big entrance on this market.

Not going to far from the initial topic I can conclude we cannot say it's the worst harvest just becuase climate is changing, because producers aren't happy with the result. How many wine producers are there in Europe? and picking up what Foxall said "Europe is to big" to asume all wines from 2012 harvest are going to be the worst ever.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 25, 2012.

NG, I was going to point out that in spite of what Wine Expectorator says about the 4th straight great harvest, not everyone was sanguine about 2006.  Then there was the "Mountain fruit was fine but the floor suffered" school of thought.  And, of course, different non-Napa areas made good wine, so was that a bad vintage in Cal? Napa?  Rutherford? I'm pretty invested in 2006 Napa Cabs because the lack of acclaim for the vintage and the horrible economy at their release made many of them available for a song.  I've got wines that were 65% and 75% off of retail.  That says good vintage for me to buy.  Haven't been disappointed.

At the Rockpile vineyard dinner in June, Clay Mauritson said a lot of interesting things.  Like, judge us by the tough vintages.  Did we make good decisions in the vineyards?  Did we select carefully at the winery? Did we declassify juice and only use good lots, even if it cost us a lot of volume?  And some places, like Rockpile, don't suffer the same swings from year to year, at least not in such great measure.  So, find a terroir or region you like, and a winemaker you like, and a wine you like, and buy it, especially in unacclaimed vintages that can be had for cheap.  I bought a bunch of Clay's 2006 Jack's Cabin Zin that night because he poured it for us and it was delicious--I even paid full price less my member discount. 

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 25, 2012.

Concur with Greg and Fox, I don't see now 06' Napa was any worse than 05', and it's really a special vintage for the mountain AVA's, especially Howell Mountain in particular.

OT and I tasted some real nice 06' Napa floor fruit at Corison last time in Napa also.

Reply by CheloSpahn, Oct 26, 2012.

I just remember two wines I tried from 2006 haverst:

- Clos Du Val Cabernet and Merlot (classic one's Stags Leap District)

Camparing them to 2008 (wich I think are the best wines you can find nowadays from napa in Colombia) there's no much difference. Spicy, minty, structured wines with silky tannins. I don't know if they did some amazing stuff on focusing on the plant or the wine production but the 2006 harvest wasn't that bad.

Reply by CheloSpahn, Oct 26, 2012.

Oh I forgot..

From WE... Cabernet 92 points.. Merlot 91 points.. Is that a bad harvest?

Just think about it NG, obviously we cannot focus on these two wines.. but they are known

Reply by Wai Xin Chan, Oct 26, 2012.

I agree with most of the comments that "a 'great' harvest remark now isn't going to matter that much after all", and the reverse of a bad vintage is well, not that bad either. For too many times, media had been focused on giving quick judgement about a vintage as if they are trying to get readership for the publications.

Don't count the eggs till they are hatched. Even for the great '09 Bordeaux I have noticed some really good drinking now and others that I can't understand why they are given such great points. 

Going back to the high and dry topic, possibly the only thing I am upset with is price factor thanks to extra-affluent new consumer market.

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