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France’s Loire Valley puts faith in red wines

Despite global decline of both production and consumption, the Loire Valley is upping its focus on red wine as part of a strategic project to enhance the reputation of the region.

France's Loire Valley puts faith in red wines

Global red wine supply and demand have decreased significantly in the last twenty years. Worldwide, 2021 production volumes were 25% lower than their peak in 2004, according to recent OIV data. The decrease is remarkable also in relative terms: at the beginning of the century, red wines accounted on average for 48% of the total wine production, while in the last few years, the share dropped to 43%.

The impact has been felt most starkly in Europe’s major red wine-producing countries. France has experienced sharp decline, and now produces 50% less red wine than it did at the beginning of the century.

This downward trend in production reflects the drop in demand for red wines, particularly across Europe, where Germany, France, Italy and Spain have seen the sharpest decline since 2000.

Despite the negative growth rates, one French region is putting its faith in red wines, with hopes that they can help to raise its profile both at home and abroad.

InterLoire, the region’s inter-professional association, brings together 34 appellations and denominations from Nantais, Anjou-Saumur and de la Touraine, as well as the IGP Val de Loire, spread over 42,000 hectares and 14 departments from Vendée to Puy de Dome.

The organisation this year launched a new political project, one objective of which is to enhance the reputation and value of Loire wines. The strategic project is driven by the growing appeal among consumers.

Camille Masson, president of InterLoire, said the “ultimate objective” of the political project was to “regain notoriety that will translate into market share gains across all our distribution sectors, both in France and internationally”.

To inform the project, InterLoire partnered with Wine Intelligence to conduct research on red, white, rosé and sparkling wines from the region. The research, based on 2022 data, found that red wine from the Loire promised the most potential out of the four categories when it comes to French consumers.

When it comes to market potential, the report found that Loire Valley reds have the potential to acquire 7.8 million new French consumers in the coming years, on top of the 7.3 million current consumers of red wines from the region.

Sophie Talbot, general director at InterLoire, told db that in general, wine producers have a challenge recruiting new consumers when it comes to red wines.

For the Loire, however, “we are very lucky”, she said. “We have wines that are very soft, the tannins are elegant, and we have freshness.”

Talbot says this is a big advantage in the market. “Our point of differentiation is our freshness,” she said, meaning the Loire is defying the downward trend of heavier, more tannic red wines which consumers are turning away from.

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