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Marlborough predicts Sauvignon Blanc shortage

New Zealand, the world’s second largest producer of Sauvignon Blanc after France, may not be able to meet global demand in 2021 due to “an exceptionally small harvest.”

According to a representative from Pernod Ricard, owner of Brancott Estate, extreme spring frosts significantly impacted yields following an earlier-than-normal budburst, which particularly affected white grape varieties in Marlborough.

“The Sauvignon Blanc yields in Marlborough alone are 30% down,” the representative told db.

“The reality is that Pernod Ricard Winemakers will be unable to meet global Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc demand this year after one of the smallest harvests in many years.

“There is very little, if any, 2020 vintage stock remaining due to the strong ongoing demand for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in most key markets, which has added to the issues created by the small 2021 vintage.”

Matt Deller, Villa Maria’s chief global sales and marketing officer, added that “near-drought conditions” in the three months leading up to the 2021 harvest had compounded the damage inflicted by spring frosts.

However, he told db that the forecast global shortfall in Sauvignon Blanc may encourage consumers to broaden their horizons.

“A shortage in Sauvignon Blanc will likely engender an increased interest in Villa Maria’s wines beyond Sauvignon – we have a good amount of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, rosé and Bordeaux reds for consumers to enjoy,” Deller said.

Nevertheless, the industry is concerned that winegrowers in Marlborough are facing a perfect storm of reduced supply, increased production costs and ongoing labour shortages, due to the pandemic.

“From a financial perspective, lower volumes are leading to increased costs,” said a representative from Pernod Ricard.

“This is being compounded by increased input costs and ongoing labour shortages due to the closure of borders in New Zealand.”

Brent Marris, owner of Marisco Vineyards, added that “in some cases, we can push through a price increase, but we are taking a very holistic view. What happens if we have an exceptionally high-volume crop next year, do we drop our prices? The supply strain has offered us many potential sales opportunities, which we have had to decline.”

But there is some good news for winemakers in New Zealand’s biggest wine region. Growers are united in their excitement over the “exceptional quality” of wines being produced from the vintage.

“Our key varietals, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir have progressed from promising ferments into outstanding base wines,” said Greg Rowdon, GM for viticulture and winemaking at Yealands Wine Group.

“The level of concentration, intensity and purity of flavour emerging will see vintage 2021 wines deliver exceptional quality for consumers.”

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