The vintage 2013 in France can be considered as extraordinary, even if the annual balance sheet of Météo France disagrees with that.
Everyone still remembers the hailstorms moving around the country, as well as the unusually cool and wet spring. But we tend to forget that the first consequence of bad weather is not a loss of quality, but of quantity. The weather in 2013 was especially problematic during the flowering period. But when vine florishes, it does not want to be disturbed. Cold, wind, rain, but also drought and heat often provoke “coulure”: Instead of becoming berries, the flowers just fall off.
In 2013 thus, France “only” was the world’s second largest wine producer, just behind Italy, with some 44 million hectoliters of wine (4.4 billion liters) coming from its vineyards. Not really bad. And don’t we all agree that good wine is not a question of quantity, but of quality (and I would like to apologize for this statement to all winegrowers whose economic viability is endangered by excessive crop failures in 2013)?
But we should not forget that you can not judge a vintage just by the national or even regional weather balance. As winemaker you develop a specific stratagy for every vineyard, for each variety, and for each microclimate. Because every microclimate is influenced by a variety of factors: A protective forest, a south-facing slope, a few meters up, lower groundwater... Only small differences and variations in the environment can make harvest better or worse.
“A rare but good vintage” wrote the French business magazine “Capital” in September 2013. A phrase you should remember during your next visit to your favourite wine shop - instead of relying on unqualified statements of self-proclaimed wine experts. Go and hunt for the fine and already rare wines of this great vintage, I guarantee, it’s worth it!