Burgundy exports go on rising in 2017

Exports of Burgundy continued to rise in 2017 across all major markets, although volumes were largely stable on account of the constraints imposed by recent small vintages.

Overall, exports of Burgundy rose 0.7% by volume in 2017 versus 2016 – the lack of Chablis and Petit Chablis in particular hampering further gains as, if Chablis is removed from the equation, exports of Burgundy by volume rose 6% – but exports by value rose a rather more significant 10.7% to €906 million, a testament to the price the region’s wines now command.

Indeed, as the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB), said in a statement: “This growth in terms of revenue can be explained by a shift in sales towards more lucrative markets for Premium and Super Premium appellations. Since 2009, Bourgogne wines have lost ground in certain markets looking for high volumes and which can be difficult in terms of pricing (notably Germany, Sweden and the UK). The low volumes of red wines have, in parallel, led to a reorientation of efforts towards markets favouring white wines (USA, Canada, Japan).”

On this latter point, it was noted that white wines account for 65% of the volumes exported (and 49% of the value) but that this was a slight drop on the average.

Again, the lack of Chablis which makes up almost 40% of Burgundy’s white wine exports was a factor in this.

One big winner as a result have been the wines of the Mâconnais, which exported 14.8m bottles worth €80m in 2017, respective rises of 13.2% and 13.5% by volume and value on 2016.

The region’s red wines have also been on the move and saw export volumes rise 6.2% last year, especially among Village and Village Premier Cru levels.

The main drivers for this growth were the US, UK, China, Sweden and Germany.

Although only a very minor part of the picture, the Crémant de Bourgogne category continued to prove “dynamic” in 2017 with the volumes exported hitting a new record high of 7.2m bottles, a rise of 19% on 2016.

The US and Sweden remain the biggest markets for the sparkling wine but European markets such as Germany, Belgium and the UK also showed very positive growth – the UK up 153% in volume though from a very small base of course.

The five biggest export markets for Burgundy remain the US, UK, Japan, Belgium and Canada – which together absorb some 60% of Burgundy’s exports by volume and value.

Overall, the US, Belgium and Canada grew in both volume and value in 2017 while the UK and Japan dipped very slight in volume (less than 1%) but continued to grow in value.

In terms of the UK specifically, despite the uncertainty that still lingers over ‘Brexit’, exports of Burgundian wines were up 11.7% by value to €145.7m.

Volumes, however, fell 5.7% to 15m bottles, a loss that again was largely due to the shortfall in Chablis which alone accounts for 41% of all white Burgundian wines exported to the UK.

On the other hand, as Nelly Blau, export director of the BIVB, told the drinks business, if the Chablis figures are discounted then volumes to the UK actually rose 8% and value 23%.

As with the broader picture for Burgundian wines, those categories showing real progress in the UK are white wines from the Mâconnais (up 17.9% in volume and 11.4% in value), regional red AOCs (up 11% by volume and 46% by value) and Crémant (up 153% by volume and 168% by value).

Quite how exports will be impacted over the course of this year is yet to be seen. In 2017 most wines in the system were from the 2014 and 2015 vintages whereas added to the mix this year are the wines of the really very small 2016 harvest.

Most likely, total exports by volume may be shown to be down again by the end of this year but values will undoubtedly have risen.

Fortunately, the figures for the 2017 vintage show the region enjoyed a rather more substantial harvest in that year of just over 1.5 million hectolitres, up 5% on the 10 year average.

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