Chablis from the 2021 vintage may no longer be available on the menu. Nor Rhones. Nor Champagne. Or at least it will cost more - possibly a lot more.
The frost that occurred in early April in France is, “probably the biggest agricultural disaster in the beginning of the 21st century,” according to experts at the French Ministry of Agriculture, resulting in billions in losses and reducing wine production for the 2021 vintage in key regions by as much as 90 percent.
Climate modeling scientists from the World Weather Attribution initiative say the risks of the extreme high spring temperatures causing early bud break - followed by early frosts - were increased 60 percent due to climate change. And, they say, this alarming trend is predicted to continue. (See full study here.)
The National Federation of Farmers' Unions (FNSEA) estimated that a third of the country’s overall wine production could be lost.
Climate scientists collaborating from four European countries calculated climate change's impacts on the early bud break/early frost debacle say it's the anthropogenic climate changes that are messing with Mother Nature.
Quoted in Euronews, Philippe Pellaton, President of the Inter-Rhone Association of winegrowers, said the frost means this year will result in "the smallest harvest of the Côtes du Rhône in the last 40 years." Burgundy reported at least 50 percent of the crop was lost. Chablis reported losses of 80 to 90 percent.
The new climate report details a sort of climate change induced traffic jam, where rising temperatures that bring early bud break also increase the dangers of running into early frosts, climate researchers said.
The study was authored by the World Weather Attribution initiative and conducted by an international group of scientists from the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (from the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, the University of Oxford, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena, and Météo-France.
Sadly, one of France's leading organic wine regions, the Languedoc-Roussillon, was among those hit hardest. Due to its Mediterranean climate, the southern region is one of the first to warm in the spring.
In the Gard, Hérault and Aude, vintners said as much as 90 percent of the crop was lost in the worst hit areas.
One organic vintner, in Hérault, Émilie Faucheron posted a heart wrenching video about the frost, which was viewed by thousands throughout France, bringing the human element to the crisis reporting.