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Major fall in Bordeaux 2017 production not expected to raise prices

Published:  18 October, 2017

Bordeaux officials have played down a potential impact on wine prices resulting from the dramatic fall in Bordeaux’s production volumes in 2017.

The Chairman of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, announced in London yesterday, that production in Bordeaux had plummeted by more than 40% to 3.3 million hectolitres this year, down from the 5.8 million hectolitres produced in 2016.

Reports in the French press estimate that frost earlier this year has caused €1.5 billion (£1.4 billion) worth of damage across Bordeaux’s vineyards however, Bordeaux ‘s wine board, the CIVB, today, played down the eventuality of a rise in wine prices for 2017 Bordeaux wines.

“There may be a slight increase in prices for the 2017 vintage, but the high quality and volumes of the 2015 and 2016 vintages, means there should be little impact on prices. However, that said, a consecutive low-volume production from the vintage in 2018, would have a greater impact on prices for the 2017 vintage,” said a CIVB spokesman.

Olivier Bernard, chairman of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, has denied the fall in production would have an impact on Bordeaux wines prices.

“Frost never has an effect on prices,” Bernard said, speaking at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in London.

Meanwhile, CIVB today confirmed to Harpers that its viticulture branch has adopted unprecedented and sweeping pro-environmental reforms with a new ban on the systematic use of herbicides across all vineyards of its six key appellations, which account for 80% of Bordeaux production.

Bordeaux is the first wine region in France to adopt such measures, the CIVB said.

The measure, which comes into effect as from the 2018 harvest, limits the use of herbicides.

The CIVB has also issued a call for producers not to use 70 carcinogenic pesticides currently authorised in Bordeaux.

The new rules, which open the door to the use of new grape varieties which are more resistant to disease and do not require the use of pesticides, oblige producers to use a treatment frequency index showing the type and amount of chemicals used on vineyards.

They are part of major-shake up aimed at reducing pesticide use in vineyards in Bordeaux.

Bernard said producers who sell wine at €3 would be most affected by the measures due to the higher costs associated with producing wine in Bordeaux without using herbicides.

"Grands Crus producers who sell wines at about €60 a bottle no longer use herbicides," Bernard said.

A spokesman at the CIVB said that alternative solutions to use of herbicides would eventually be cheaper than the use of herbicides. “Vines, which do have herbicides become stronger and are therefore more resistant to disease,” said the spokesman.

Bernard, who has introduced biodynamic practices on more than half of his Domaine De Chevalier Estate, said biodynamic wine production was not the only solution to production problems in Bordeaux.

“We have to look at several solutions,” he said