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Low-yielding Languedoc losing money in UK

Languedoc-Roussillon is losing money selling wines below £5 in the UK retail sector according to Inter Oc administrator and producer Jean-Claude Mas.

Low yielding Languedoc: Domaine La Sarabande vineyard in Faugeres

Speaking to the drinks business at yesterday’s Pays d’Oc IGP annual trade tasting in the UK, he said the region’s wine industry was only able to supply wine at low prices due to the cooperative system.

Producing around 70% of Languedoc-Roussillon’s wine, he said the cooperatives hide the real cost of making wine in the low-yielding region because many of the grape suppliers aren’t salaried and manage vineyards in their spare time.

Explaining further the challenges of low-cost production in the area, he stressed, “Languedoc-Roussillon has lower yields than Bordeaux on average – it has lower rainfall and the soil is not as deep.

Jean-Claude Mas

“People think the Languedoc-Roussillon is a region of mass production, but the yields are some of the lowest in France.”

Putting a figure on the problem, he said that the average selling price of IGP Pays d’Oc wines in the UK is €4.20.

“We need to work to put the wines into a higher category, where they should be.”

Continuing, he said “Too much is sold below £6.”

He further lamented the export of inexpensive wines to China, despite the fact the emerging economy has provided a new market for the region.

“China is a new market for the Languedoc but for very cheap wines, and has been more like a dump for wines at €1 per bottle ex-cellar – which is a big mistake.”

Changing the mood, he recalled that this year’s harvest has been extremely good in the region.

“2012 is an exceptional vintage… the quality is outstanding: we had a perfect spring, perfect summer and a perfect harvesting season.”

He compared the quality this year to other “outstanding” vintages of the last decade, which included 2001, 2005, 2007, and 2010.

Finally, speaking of his own business, Domaines Paul Mas, he expressed hope for future sales in the UK, despite the fact his wines were distributed by Stratford’s Wine Shippers, which went into receivership earlier this month.

“I’m a believer in turning a bad situation into an opportunity,” he said.

“I will reinforce the sales force here and we have the ability to deal directly with the multiples,” he added.

Losing his UK agent has, he said, encouraged him to broaden his distribution in the UK market with an increased emphasis on sales in the independents, multiple specialists, and on-trade.

As for Stratford’s, he stated, “They were squeezed out because they were not doing a good job.”

Some facts and figures on Pays d’Oc IGP

• 90,000 hectares

• 5.8m hl produced in 2010/2011 (or 770 million bottles)

• 33.5m bottles of Pays d’Oc IGP wines were exported to the UK in 2011

• This represents 67% of Languedoc-Roussillon wine volume exported to the UK


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