Stormy outlook hits French wine output

Paris - Fierce storms which hit France in April will help to push wine production down almost 10% this year on 2015 output, the ministry of agriculture said on Thursday.

Unseasonally cool weather through the spring and into the summer will drag overall production down to 42.9 million hectolitres from 47.8 million a year ago, a seven percent fall on a five-year basis, according to the ministry's statistical service Agreste.

In revising down its outlook, Agreste blamed "the spring freeze that hit certain winegrowing areas, recurring winds made worse by drought around the Mediterranean and damage stemming from frost."

Champagne was one of the worst hit regions after several bouts of spring frost and hailstorms which are forecast to drag output down by as much as one third, leading to harvesting being already a week behind schedule based on a 10-yearly average.

The inclement weather means France, which has also had to battle outbreaks of rot and mildew, will likely remain behind Italy, which last year claimed the crown as the world's biggest wine producer.

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