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Is Burgundy Threatened by a Shortage of Wine?

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The Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB) fears for a shortage of wine in 2013.  The reason: a very small harvest in 2012 combined with record sales.

Clos Du TartFor some growers, plots are completely destroyed by weather or disease, whilst others have experienced losses of up to 50 to 70% of their harvest.  The wine board fears that wine stocks are drying in many areas of the region.

In Meursault, Francois and Antoine Jobard claim that their yield at the end of harvest has declined by more than 50% on last year.  “Since 2008, the yields are difficult to reach and each harvest, they decline by about 30% year on year, except for in 2009” says Antoine Jobard, head of the property.  At Clos du Tart, in the Côtes de Nuits region, director Sylvain Pitiot claims “we usually achieve 26/27 hectolitres, however this year we achieved only 14/15 hectolitres.”  However, according to him, there is not yet cause for alarm. “we are accustomed to years with low yields.  For small producers it will be hard, but for the wealthy Burgundy, there is no cause for concern”.

At Domaine Clos du Roi in Bourgogne Coulanges, Magalie Bernard feels relatively unscathed :  “In recent years, we made sure to store wines and we also managed to avoid the problems with freezing and disease.  Due to this, we are a little better off than elsewhere in Burgundy.”  In 2012, the winemaker is predicted to lose a third of their production.  She adds; “Half of my colleagues are not achieving their yield target, and as for me, I have not met mine since 2010.  Winemakers from my father’s generation would never have heard such a thing!”

BIVB is even more alarmed by the low harvest – the lowest since 1955 – when combined with the booming demand and record sales in supermarkets (+5.8%) but also export (+15%).  This is supported by surging Asian markets, although Europe – Belgium and the Netherlands in particular – are in decline.  Antoine Jobard does not sell through supermarkets, although he has still noticed a significant increase in demand: “In addition to traditional markets such as Germany and Britain, where sales do not weaken, new customers emerge, such as Lebanon, a country I never thought I would sell to!” he adds “Burgundy wines are trading well”.
Sylvain Pitiot proclaims “it is our customers who will be a little frustrated.  But after all, it is better than saying ‘what will I do with all of this wine!’ Most of us have no more than the equivalent of a vintage worth of stock.  Those who work with retail must have significant volumes to follow demand.  If 2013 is like 2012, some producers are likely to run out”
Magalie Bernard explains that by only selling to individuals, restaurateurs and a little number of Belgium people, her stocks are surviving.  She predicts that “the producers will be in great demand to fill the shortfall in supply”.

Faced with this situation of diminishing supply, winemakers prepare methods to best deal with the shortage.  Syluvain Pitiot intends to revive old vintages on to the market “reserves are just about gone, we have to spread the sales.”  “We do not want to sell everything in six months that should last us for a year” explains Antoine Jobard.  He insists that large purchasers will not take precedence over others.  “If we wanted, we could sell all of our wine to three clients.  However, we believe it must be shared, everyone must have a little wine…obviously this is the theory but in practice it is not always this easy!”

Source : Agatha Petit
Le Revue du vin de France
9th October 2012

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