The annual press conference of CIVB, Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (the Bordeaux producers’ joint organisation for development, control, lobbying and political actions), with Bernard Farges, president, and Allan Sichel, vice-président and president of Fédération des Négociants, two of the most influential persons on the Bordeaux wine scene currently, took place yesterday in Paris.
The initial presentation by the president covered such things as the economic situation and the strategic developments, the 2013 Bordeaux vintage, Bordeaux marketing and communications initiatives in Bordeaux etc.
The following Q&A with the Bordeaux top brass covered for example the Chinese wine market (again, and again and again), the Chinese wine production threat, multi-year contracts (“les contrats pluriannuel”, apparently a very touchy or important (?) issue in view of the repeated questions), Bordeaux wine fraud and fake wines, the French restrictions for wine communications (La Loi Evin), the much discussed book Vino Business by Isabelle Saporta that talks about the politics and manipulation of the wine scene in Bordeaux, the US wine market etc.
Highlights from the initial presentation of the President of the CIVB Bernard Farges (with some comments):
- 2013 was a year that broke the increase in Bordeaux wine exports both in value and in volume, after a record 2012.
- Bulk wine prices were up 25% in 2013.
- The Bordeaux wine business represents some 4 billion in turnover, of which 2.14 billion euro is on export markets, and 55.000 employment opportunities (jobs).
- Sales were (nevertheless) stable at 5.57 million hectolitres (742 million bottles), with a slight decrease in total value: 4.24 bn euro (-1.4%)
- Exports are shrinking: at the end of 2013 they reached 2.31 M hl, -2% from 2012, or in value 2.14 bn euro (-6%)
- The decrease in Chinese purchases has had an important impact
Comment: this being the only cause mentioned one must assume that it is the major cause. China is the biggest export market since a few years.
- 2013 was a very small harvest. The smallest since 1991
- A new type of contracts have been introduced, multi-year contracts, “contrats pluriannuels”, that runs over three years, between winegrowers and négociants.
Comment: this must be an aspect of some sort of Bordeaux-specific market fixing, since in most other cases buyer and seller would be free to establish whatever kind of contract they wish.
- Several new marketing initiatives have been launched, mainly focussing on seven key export markets. For example
- A specific Belgian initiative
- Increased attention on dry white wines.
- Rosé wines
- The CIVB wine school
- A new “fête du vin” in Brussels
- Three 100% Bordeaux wine bars (Bordeaux, New York, Shanghai)
- A number of specific initiatives regarding the environment have been launched.
- An important research focus is to find solutions for wood diseases, “maladies du bois”, which is a dangerous threat to vineyards
And several other points.
For the enthusiast here is a major part of the presentation and of the question and answer session (not all the Q&A is included):
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