French wine production in 2023 is expected to be near the average of the last five years, with a favourable outlook in Champagne and Burgundy contrasting that in disease-hit Bordeaux, the French farm ministry said.
Overall wine output is projected to be between 44 million and 47 million hectolitres, a range that encompasses both the five-year average of 44.5 million hectolitres and 2022 output of 46.1 million hectolitres, the ministry said in a report on Tuesday.
A hectolitre is the equivalent of 100 litres, or 133 standard wine bottles.
Frequent storm showers and hot weather during May and June created the conditions for mildew disease in the Bordeaux and Southwest growing regions, meaning production forecasts are tentative for those areas, the ministry said.
"We've never been in a situation with such uncertainty and contrasts," Jerome Despey, a producer in southern France and chair of farm office FranceAgriMer's wine committee, told Reuters by telephone.
With the grape harvest expected to revert to a more typical schedule after a very early start last year, harvest prospects would not become clearer until picking gets into full swing from late August, he said.
Disease losses could add to difficulties for Bordeaux producers.
Falling demand for red wines, out of fashion with younger drinkers, prompted the government to offer producers aid this year.
The wine sector wants the government to expand funding for a distillation scheme so 3 million hectolitres of wine stocks can be cleared, mainly in Bordeaux and Languedoc-Roussillon in the far south, Despey said.
A separate scheme to pull up vines in Bordeaux, as a longer-term response to the decline in consumption, exacerbated by inflation pressures on households, had attracted applications totalling around 9,200 hectares, or some 8% of the total wine growing area in Bordeaux, he added.
In the south, drought was expected to lower output in Languedoc-Roussillon region, the ministry said.
But the situation was favourable elsewhere, with the growth of grapes boosted by ideal weather during the flowering period and by rain at the start of summer, it said.
Output was seen surpassing the five-year average in Champagne, where frost and hail caused limited damage this year, and also in Burgundy, despite some mildew cases, the ministry added.