France pours more aid as wine sector faces ‘Major Difficulties’

This week the government of France stepped up financial support for wine growers faced with a deep drop in demand after lockdowns closed restaurants and bars and U.S. tariffs curbed exports.

“The state will increase to 250 million euros its support plan to wine growing and we will request this aid to be distributed as quickly as possible because cash needs are pressing,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.

Castex made the announcement during a visit to the Menetou-Salon and Sancerre vineyards in the Loire region.

“The international situation, the health crisis, a drop in exports: our wine sector faces major difficulties. State support must continue and intensify,” Castex said on Twitter earlier.

France has already provided some support, but the wine industry has called for more action.

In April, the European Commission decided to support crisis management measures in wine and other agriculture sectors affected by the coronavirus crisis.

In May, France cleared a 140 million euro ($165.87 million)crisis mechanism to distill surplus wine into industrial alcohol to be used to produce hand sanitizers.

Then in June, the government unveiled an additional 30 million euros of support for the wine industry, including 15 million for the launch of a private storage scheme for two million hectolitres of surplus wine, an alternative to distilling.

In addition to the impact of COVID-19, France’s wine industry has suffered from U.S tariffs on imports imposed as part of the trade dispute between the European Union and the United States over aircraft subsidies.

Source:  Reuters

 

Reims Tourism Office offers free Champagne to promote tourism

Attracting tourists post-Covid is undoubtedly a challenge. The Greater Reims Council has launched a new initiative called “Champagne, to make your summer awesome!” Visitors to the city will be treated to a bottle of grower Champagne. The greeting has an undeniably elegant touch, though there are some strings attached.

 

A total of 3,000 bottles, sourced from 68 different producers, will be given (one/adult) to those who qualify. The giveaway is said to have cost €50,000.

 

This initiative was launched July 15 and is subject to certain criteria. To qualify, tourists must spend at least two consecutive nights in the City of Reims, or the surrounding area, and stay in a hotel, guesthouse or gîte. Airbnb does not qualify. Also, during their trip, visitors must eat in a local restaurant and order at least one dish and drink. Fast food outlets are excluded from the list. Finally, in order to qualify, tourists must provide proof that they have paid for one leisure activity, such as renting a kayak, a winery visit, bike hire, or cinema ticket. Once they have paid for these holiday treats, visitors are required to go to the Reims tourist information office to receive their complimentary bottle.

This follows news of poor sales of Champagne during the Covid-19 pandemic. Industry body Comité Champagne said that sales were down 32% for the period January to May compared to the same period in 2019.

The CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du vin de Bordeaux) to set aside wines from 2020 to reduce oversupply

At its AGM last week, the Bordeaux wine marketing council CIVB unanimously approved the introduction of a reserve stock aimed at “reducing the increase in marketable inventories of red Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellations”. By adopting an amendment to the three-year trade agreement for 2020-2023, the CIVB is pursuing the objective outlined last year by chairman Bernard Farges, which is “to re-establish a balance between supply and demand for Bordeaux wines”.

We are currently witnessing an imbalance in the market due to crop levels in excess of sales”, sums up Ann-Cécile Delavallade, head of the CIVB’s economic department. According to the statistician’s estimates, inventories of AOC Bordeaux should reach 2.2 million hectolitres during the 2019-2020 marketing season, which is a 21% rise in one year, before distillation is taken into account. Stocks of Bordeaux Supérieur are estimated at 1.05 million hl (+14%). “We are seeing an upward trend in stocks, requiring the introduction of regulatory measures”, stresses Delavallade.

The Bordeaux region will benefit from crisis distillation – 450,000 hectolitres are currently subsidized though an extension is needed. It will also cut its yields significantly in 2020, dropping to 50 hectolitres per hectare for Bordeaux, compared with 54 hl/ha in 2019. Nevertheless, the idea of introducing collective stocks is being viewed as a complementary measure. In practice, volumes set aside are “calculated on the basis of 2020 appellation applications: above 45 hl/ha for AOC Bordeaux and 43 hl/ha for AOC Bordeaux Supérieur, both within the limits of authorized annual yields”. This represents a 10% reduction in the immediate marketing potential of the two AOCs.

Canadian Wine Imports Accelerate During the Pandemic

Canadian wine imports grew by 11% in May relative to the same month a year ago based on data collected by the Canada Border Services Agency. This follows a double-digit volume gain in April and a slight contraction in March. For the three-month period beginning in March, the month when the COVID-19 outbreak was officially declared a pandemic, wine imports increased by 6% to 13.3 million cases. This represents an acceleration in demand as imports had slipped a bit during the 12 months leading up to the pandemic.

Spirits also gained ground over the last three months with a 7% increase in volume, but beer imports plunged 16%.

Canada is the 8th largest global wine importer and imported wines, including bulk wines destined for International Canadian Blends (ICBs), represent around 85% of Canadian wine sales by volume. Among the largest provincial markets, growth has been strongest in British Columbia and Ontario. Quebec, the country’s leading wine importer, has experienced only a slight increase in volume since the pandemic began while Alberta has recorded a double-digit decline.

The value of imported wines has increased at a slower pace than volume – suggesting that consumers have traded down during the pandemic. Indeed, gains over the last three months were driven largely by surging bulk wine shipments (specifically from California), which are typically blended with domestic wine and marketed as value-priced ICBs. Bulk wine imports grew by 10% relative to the same period last year.

Packaged wine imports increased at about half that rate with wines in large format containers of two liters or more (think boxed wine) outpacing those arriving in smaller bottles. Italian wines led the pack in the packaged wine category with a 13% year-over-year increase in volume. Demand for bubbles also appears to have accelerated during the pandemic as sparkling wine imports popped by 13%.

The import data suggests that wine demand in Canada remains healthy, but the Canadian wine industry has not fared as well in terms of exports, though they are not a major source of income. For the three months ending in May, packaged wine exports declined by 54% in value and 66% in volume. By comparison, Canadian beer exports were down by nearly 25% in both value and volume while spirits bucked the trend with only a slight decline in volume and a solid gain in value.

Source:  Vintage Economics

Cameron Diaz Launches a “Clean” Wine Brand with close friend Katherine Power

Cameron Diaz is stepping into the organic wine business. The American actress launched “Avaline” a new wine brand on Thursday with her close friend, entrepreneur Katherine Power. Avaline features two wines, white and rosé, which are organic, vegan, and free of additives.

Made with organic grapes grown in Penedès in northern Spain, the white is a blend of Macabeo, Malvasia and Xarel·lo, which are best known for being used in the production of Cava. Crisp, dry and delicate, it is said to offer refreshing aromas of citrus and stone fruit.

Avaline Rosé meanwhile, is a Vin de France made in Provence from organically farmed Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Caladoc. Light and refreshing, it boasts notes of melon, raspberries and citrus zest.

“I enjoyed wine for many-a-year and never questioned it. Not once. I actually figured it was the most responsible alcohol choice because it was made with fermented grapes,” Diaz shared in a press release. “But I had no idea of the process. One of the first conversations Katherine and I had about making a cleaner wine was ‘what are we going to add to it?’ We soon learned it wasn’t what you added, it’s what you didn’t add.”

“We learned most wine is not made with organic grapes and that it can be manipulated with over 70 additives. This completely changed the way we thought about it,” Power explained. “When we started asking for clean or organic wines in grocery stores, hotels and restaurants, all we got were eye-rolls.”

The pair was first inspired to pursue winemaking in April 2018, and just over two years later they perfected their two offerings. Avaline white is a dry, crisp wine from Spain that “pairs perfectly with fresh-cut flowers and your favorite meal.” Avaline rosé comes from France and features notes of melon and citrus zest.

With the launch of the brand Diaz and Power are seeking to bring more transparency to the wine industry by being open about what goes into their wines.

Both wines have an RRP of US $24 and are available to purchase at Wine.com and select retailers in 43 US states.