Bordeaux wine exports to UK stable despite global downturn

Bordeaux wine exports to the UK grew 15% in value last year compared to the region’s overall global exports, which grew by just 3%.

The region suffered a 14% downturn in volume exports globally, predominantly due to the low 2017 harvest and magnified by a slowdown in wine imports by China, the biggest market for Bordeaux wines.

But despite this global downturn, volume exports to the UK from Bordeaux remained steady.

Allan Sichel, Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) president, told DRN: “We are pleased with the performance in the UK.

“Where the UK does stand out is that it is maintaining its levels in volume terms while a lot of other countries have dropped in volume, even if they have maintained or grown in value.”

Value growth in the UK market has been attributed to the strong reputation of the most recent Bordeaux vintages.

In addition, the UK remained the top destination for Bordeaux white wines in 2018, while sales of rosé and sparkling wine from the region also grew.

Sichel said: “We are especially pleased with the performance of white wines because the UK is the first export destination for Bordeaux white wines.

“Rosé is also growing. It is a very popular segment the world over but Bordeaux is producing more and more rosé wines. But the other thing to note is that those growers making rosé no longer – as they used to in the past – have it as a byproduct while they focus on the reds. Now they are dedicated to making rosé wines right from the start of the harvesting, and they are now making some very good rosé wines. “

Fiona Juby, CIVB’s UK marketing consultant, added: “For us it is a good introduction for some of the younger and some female consumers into the world of Bordeaux. The white, rosé and Crémant wines can help bring people into the category and then it helps them to explore the area further.”

Sichel confirmed that Crémant is “growing massively”.

He said: “Production has multiplied by three in the past five years, just in Bordeaux. A third of the Crémant produced is rosé Crémant.”

Juby said sparkling rosé wines make sense for the UK market due to the popularity of each of these categories. It could also give the region an advantage over Prosecco.

She said: “Prosecco has done a great job in growing that sparkling category and moving it away from being just for special occasions and celebrations to being an aperitif and everyday drink and that definitely gives us an opportunity. Crémant is definitely growing for us and it’s an interesting area.”

For 2019 the CIVB has plans to run its Bordeaux Wine Month campaign in September and it will be working with independent retailers to help with promotions in store, supported by merchandising packs. The campaign was successfully run for the first time in 2018.

Juby said: “It was very successful last year. We had one retailer who sold 200% more than he normally would. We will definitely do it again this year, and we are planning to ensure each promotion by retailers will include at least one white wine from Bordeaux as white is a big part of our focus this year.”

The CIVB is also focusing heavily on sustainability with 60% of the region’s vineyards now under some kind of sustainable certification.

Sichel said: “Our objective is that by 2025 we want every single grower to be involved in an environmental certification of some kind.”

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