Ship shape: Bulk wine battles back

22nd January, 2019 by Lauren Eads

This time last year (November), the looming challenges that lay ahead for the bulk wine industry were substantial.

The 2017 harvest was among the smallest ever recorded, with much of Europe, including France, Spain and Italy, hit hard by frost, heat, drought and hail, while South America also declared a relatively meagre crop for a second year running, this time thanks to damaging spring frosts, rather than El Niño, which reduced the 2016 vintage.

An ongoing drought in South Africa continued to squeeze volumes there, down by 15% on 2017, according to bulk wine broker Ciatti, while South Australia had a plentiful crop, but neither produced enough to offset the dramatic drop in volumes elsewhere. This cocktail of pressures led to warnings of a bulk wine shortage, tighter supply and escalating prices, against a backdrop of Brexit, with buyers urged to shore up supply early.

Adding salt to the wound was the news of a scandal at one of the world’s biggest bulk wine producers. In March 2018, French police released details of an enormous fraud perpetrated by a leading bottler in the Côtes du Rhône, which….

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