BORDEAUX (AFP) - It was another poor harvest this year for that most famous of French wines, but Bordeaux enthusiasts can celebrate a "rare" vintage blessed by an abundance of autumn sun, local producers say.
With production estimated at between 5.2 and 5.4 million hectolitres, 2014 has proved to be another low-volume year in the southwestern area, but still better than the historic lows of 2013 when hailstorms helped ruin much of the crop.
At 3.8 million hectolitres, the 2013 harvest was the lowest since 1991.
According to Mr Bernard Farges, president of the local committee for wine growers and traders, that harvest - coupled with the "lowest stocks in 15 years in Bordeaux" - left them struggling to compete in the fierce battle for market share.
Those losses have so far only been felt with wines that come quickly to market - such as the roses and Cotes de Bordeaux - but will continue to be felt through 2015 as wines that take longer to mature become ready to sell.
"If there had been a 2014 harvest as bad as 2013, it would have been catastrophic for all the wine network, not just producers but also traders and all those in the network," said Farges.
He added that the "perfect harvest conditions" meant that 2014 would be remembered as a "happy harvest".
Temperatures were 2.2 degrees higher than average in September and 2.6 degrees higher in October - the highest in over 20 years.
"All the wines have benefited," he said, adding that such a vintage "was very rare".