Dramatic drop in wine production

Basically, winemaking is agriculture. And, fundamentally, agriculture is a fickle and always stimulating business. The year 2021 is a good example.

Some wine regions were historically hammered in 2021. France had the smallest harvest since 1957. Spain and Italy experienced a harvest drop of 10%. Not a small thing. France, Italy and Spain provide 45% of world wine production. Greece, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia also reported lower yields.

Winegrowers in the northern hemisphere have seen their production drop three years in a row. Hail, the damp conditions that promote mold in the spring, and the drought conditions in the summer were the ecological villains of this dark wine drama.

Then there is China. Ten years ago, China burst onto the world wine scene with the proclaimed ambition to dominate global wine production. But, whoa. Quirks change in a centrally managed state. China has halved its wine production, from 147 million cases in 2016 to 73 million cases in 2020. So much for this plan of domination.

This is Chicken Little’s “sky is falling” wine news. Fortunately, the winegrowers of the southern hemisphere benefited from exceptional harvests in 2021. Germany, Hungary and Romania avoided the repulsive climatic vicissitudes.

The vines are gentle survivors. They also grow all over the world between 30 degrees and 50 degrees north of the equator and 30 degrees to 50 degrees south of the equator. It’s a lot of territory. It is extremely unlikely that everything will collapse in a year.

That said, wine growers around the world are in panic about climate change. Producers with accurate and precise records stretching back centuries know that global warming is a reality they have to contend with. Switch to varieties with a warmer climate. Refine irrigation techniques. Adjust harvesting strategies. Farmers of all crops have demonstrated resilience and inventiveness for over 10,000 years. The 21st century is just the next chapter in their ongoing drama.

Tasting notes

• Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Prosecco DOC NV: The very easy drinker falls on the softer end of the extra dry. $ 10-14

• Reyneke Vinehugger Organic Red Western Cape 2018: polished blend of syrah gracefully respectful of your palate. $ 14-17

• L’Ecole No. 41 Syrah, Columbia Valley 2018: A clean, easy drinker from a manufacturer that consistently delivers quality. $ 25-27

• Pinot Blanc Ram’s Gate Estate, Los Carneros 2020: concentrated, refreshing, tangy and surprisingly long finish. 37-38 $

Last round

How much would a wine drinker mourn if a wine drinker could not drink wine. Let’s not find out.

Email: [email protected] Newsletter: gusclemens.substack.com. Website: gusclemensonwine.com. Facebook: Gus Clemens on wine. Twitter: @gusclemens.

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