Scottish wine lovers may see a rise in the price of French wine next year, as production in France is expected to fall by 12 percent as a result of harsh weather.

Late frosts and unprecedented heatwaves in June and July, as well as hailstorms, have badly damaged the crops.

The French agriculture ministry said it expected a production of 43.4 million hectolitres, down from 49.4 million last year - the equivalent of 798 fewer bottles than in 2018.

The quality of the wine is however expected to remain high, which could lead to a rise in prices.

Toby Sigouin, senior wine buyer at Scottish wine merchants Inverarity Morton, said that while they do not expect any supply issues, prices might go up.

He said: “We have very long-term relationships with producers around France, who we have been working with for many years. So they will, even on the bad years, put aside some stock for us.

“However, obviously, if they’ve had a bad year, they will generally put their prices up and we then have to pass them on to the consumer.”

A rise in prices could also have an effect on how much French wine consumers will buy. 

Mr Sigouin added: “It depends on the extremity of the situation. Certainly, a few years ago we had several consecutive years of really bad harvest in Burgundy, and as a result the prices of lower, cheaper Burgundy wines have gone up quite considerably. Sales of things like Chablis have never really recovered from that.”

Mr Sigouin said extreme weather events in France have become more frequent over the past six or seven years, which leads the market to be more volatile - and the producers are directly linking this problem to climate change.

He added: “Our partners in the Languedoc have had issues with the extreme heat. They have photographs of vine leaves that are just shrivelled up due to extreme heat.

“Our producer in Sancerre, in the Loire, said she is very worried as to whether they will be able to produce Sauvignon Blanc in the traditional style or Sancerre as people know it.”

Miriam Spiers, sales director of Beith-based wine merchants Alliance Wine, said a price increase is possible but she did not believe the impact would be high. 

She said: “Whenever there is a fluctuation in vintage then prices tend to change. It is the nature of the business that we are in, after all this is just farming with one crop a year. 

“That said, as importers we work very hard with our partner producers to ensure that prices to our trade customers, and consequently to the consumer, do not change much. I would not expect to see this fall in production affect prices for consumers much.”

Some regions have been hit harder than others. Production of Burgundy and Beaujolais is expected to fall by 26 percent compared to last year, while Champagne output could be reduced by 17 per cent.

Last weekend, the Beaujolais region was hit by exceptional hailstorms, only days before the start of the harvest, destroying all of the grapes in some areas as “blocks of ice” have been reported to fall from the sky.

A winemaker told French broadcaster LCI: “We work all year long to have a decent harvest, and in 15 minutes, everything is on the ground.”

Southern regions have suffered from the heatwaves in July and August, which caused the grapes to burn. Grapes are also generally less juicy, resulting in less wine being produced altogether.

The French ministry’s estimates are only preliminary, as the weather conditions during the harvest could further impact the production.

Better news for French winemakers came with the announcement by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday that Donald Trump had dropped the idea of tariffs on French wine, which he had planned as a retaliation to a French tax on big US tech companies.