French wine harvest 'smallest since 1945'

Oil heaters protect the vines from frost at the Blanchot vineyard, Chablis, Burgundy.

Bordeaux region reports 40% drop in production levels compared to 2016 as experts fear lowest harvest in more than 70 years - but the quality is high

France's wine harvest is set to be the worst since 1945, experts fear.

National figures for wine production in 2017 are due to be released in February, but figures from regional wine councils suggest that levels will be the lowest for more than 70 years.

The Bordeaux wine council was the latest to release its figures, revealing that production was down 40% year on year, with 3.5million hectolitres of wine produced - though the quality of the wines is reported to be very high.

In April, late frosts damaged fragile shoots that had emerged early following a mild March. Some producers in Bordeaux and elsewhere set fires between the rows of grapevines in a bid to stave off the frosts.

Some chateaux in France's had lost 80% to 90% of their harvest while others had lost none, with the Saint-Emilion region the worst affected.

Frosts also damaged vines in the northeastern Alsace region, while many vineyards in the south suffered in a very dry summer.

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