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Burgundy needs two strong harvests to ease stocks and prices

Published:  25 June, 2014

Burgundy needs two strong harvests to get stocks back on track and stabilise prices, says Will Oatley, managing director of Louis Latour Agencies.

Oatley said the French are "desperate" for a high volume, high quality harvest this year following the extreme price rises in the past 12 months caused by poor harvests. Pouilly Fuissé prices have increased by 60 to 65% in the last 12 months, while Macon, one of Louis Latour Agencies core lines, has jumped 20 to 25%.

Burgundy 'desperate' for high-quality, high-volume harvest this year, says Louis Latour Agencies' boss Will Oatley.Burgundy 'desperate' for high-quality, high-volume harvest this yearSource: Ed Robinson/OneRedEye Louis Latour Agencies' managing director Will Oatley says it will take two strong harvests form Burgundy to stabilise prices and boost stock levels.

"It's very tough to maintain our market position in light of such hefty price rises," Oatley told "The only saving grace has been the Ardèche. We managed to maintain distribution and volumes with these lines and protect our place in the market."

He said two strong crops would help with pricing stability. "When prices went up in January we had to be very careful people didn't stockpile [ahead of time] and fuel the secondary market. We need two really good harvests to get stocks back on track, especially as the top end wines are going so well."

With its average bottle of wine retailing between £10 and £20, Oatley said it has been "hard to keep that £9.99 magical price point" that multiples seek.

Oatley took up the role in October 2013, after having been with Mentzendorff for the past 11 years, as sales director for the past five years.

Oatley would like to rebalance the business a little more in favour of the on-trade - it is currently split 60:40 in favour of the off-trade. Since joining he has boosted the sales team with two staff who will be focused on that side of the market. "I want to get a bit more focus back on London - it's still a bubble when it comes to the prestige restaurant business," he said.

Read our soon to be published Q&A with Will Oatley for more in-depth information on Louis Latour Agencies' plans.