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How the Short European Harvest Might Affect Wine Lists

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The startling announcement that as many as 200 Beaujolais producers may soon go out of business brought a stark emphasis to just how little wine was produced in some classic regions of Europe last year. Clearly there will be consequences stemming from the short 2012 harvest. How might the low yields in Europe affect the wine that you are poured in New York? Eater asked Kevin McKenna, a partner in wine importer Louis/Dressner Selections, to sum up the situation.

Do you think that the low quantity coming out of 2012 harvest in Europe is going to push people into rotating their wine by the glass programs more often as the summer season approaches and they begin to look for fresh whites? Kevin McKenna: I think it is a distinct possibility given the low quantities of some standard wine pours from Loire, Burgundy and other Northern climates. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin from the Touraine region will be in short supply. As wines are released over the course of spring/summer 2013, I think you will see wine directors who are on their game change up their pour lists quite often or at least more often than usual.

And also beyond that as the reds from 2012 get released? The spring-released fresh, semi-carbonic reds that have gained some traction on wine by the glass lists I think will suffer less. In quite a few cases the winemakers had to forgo making upper level or single vineyard cuvees and everything went into the basic red cuvees which were the wines established on pour lists.

Will there be late release wines in the pipeline that might offset the shortages? Yes, there are, as usual late release 2010s and 2011s that will be in supply, but the extended aging can also affect the price point making the wines slightly out of range for a wine by the glass program. And really the darlings of the pour lists have become the early released, fresher, lively styles.

How severe will the shortage be, and will people perhaps look outside of Europe to obtain the quantity they need? In most cases, the supply is down about 30 to 40 percent of normal production (e.g. 2010 and 2011), sometimes worse. On the other hand, because of the difficulties with ripening reds and/or rain on the harvest, I think you will see an increase in the number, quality, and quantity of roses available this summer. They are quite fresh and that's a bright side of 2012.

What has happened in the local market when short vintages like 2012 have arrived in the past? For me it's a spike in mostly angry, uncomprehending customers...but I digress...let's face it, there's more than enough good wine out there and more choices than ever from France, Italy and elsewhere....it's a good time to be a wine buyer. It makes the work perhaps a little more challenging, but certainly interesting if one really cares.

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