France Set to Overtake Italy as Top Wine Producer – But At What Cost?

The Guardian is reporting that France has reclaimed their crown as top wine producer, pipping Italy to the post, in a survey by International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV). France lost its position at the top to Italy four years ago. Apparently France’s production is forecast to rise by 9%, helped in some part by the good weather:

In France, an exceptionally warm spring gave some producers a head start, according to an agriculture ministry report, while Italy was hit by poor weather. French wine-makers also said a warm and dry autumn made up for a cold and rainy summer.

French vintners have suffered several years of bad weather, resulting in abnormally low yields, suggesting this year’s rise was a return to the norm and would not mean lower-quality wines.

“It didn’t degrade the quality, as these are volumes we’re used to treating,” said Stephanie Piot, assistant to the president of the CCVF, a group of wine co-operatives across France.

Italy also lost nearly 3m hectolitres of wine because of vine replantings, which occurred to a lesser extent in France.”

What concerns me however is a report by the The Drinks Business. It’s no good France producing the wine if it can not be sold. The Drinks Business reports that over 10,000 bottles of wine have been found dumped in the streets of Hong Kong on Monday and Tuesday:

Police are trying to find who was responsible for discarding the bottles of French, Chilean and Argentine wine in Hung Hom and Sham Shui Po. The authorities were called to Chi Kiang street in Hung Hom on Monday night after a complaint about an obstruction on the pavement outside Hoi Sham Park. Nearly 10,000 bottles of French and Chilean wine with Cono Sur, Les Douve and Reine Courvil labels were found.”

I am not sure who produces Les Douve? There are a couple of contenders in the Languedoc Roussillon and one in Bordeaux – a Second wine from Chateau La Tour Carnet in the Haut Medoc. There is a Reine Courvil produced in Montagny-Les-Beaune, St. Véran – the southernmost appellation of Burgundy.

Hundreds more bottles were found the following day by police in an alley off Yen Chow street in Sham Shui Po, mostly of French and Argentine wines. As the labels in question apparently sell for less than HK$150 a bottle, it is believed that they are not fake as fraudsters prefer to pass off low quality wine as much more expensive brands. It is thought that the stocks may have been dumped by a wine merchant or distributor unable to sell the products.”

If these bottles were Bordeaux and Burgundy wines and were dumped due to a merchant being unable to sell his stock then all the hype about China mopping up the wines of France is just that – hype.

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