The year in global markets

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Helen Coburn takes a look at 2009's winners on the international wine scene



18 February 2010

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Australia increased its volume of wine exports in 2009, bringing its total to 764 million litres. However, almost all gains were in the bulk wine sector, with high-end wines actually declining by 53 million litres. There was disappointment in the industry when figures showed that Australia exported 39% of its wine in bulk, compared with 26% in 2008. Excess quantity and the current financial woes are the explanation.

Efforts are being made to curb Australian supply. From January 2010, growers have been offered a package of tools to help them assess their financial and market viability, with the aim of eliminating loss-making wineries. It’s been estimated that around 17% of Australia’s vineyards are unviable, with the country producing a 100 million litre surplus. Meanwhile, firm restraint is being exerted on prices, making Australia’s mid market wines an excellent buy at present.

Chile’s exports rose in 2009 and in November alone sales were up 60% on November 2008. Value categories grew most strongly, with a decline in some high priced labels. However, sauvignon blanc held its own and aromatic whites increased volume, albeit from a smaller base. Pinot noir has also performed well at all price points.  

One producer that was delighted to have extra wine in 2009 was England. We all remember the rotten summer of 2009 but we forget that autumn was long and mild, resulting in a large but good quality harvest for England. Growers expect to have around three million bottles, a total which will match the excellent 2006. There will be fewer chaptalised wines than usual, as grape sugar levels resulted in potential alcohol of 11 to 13% in many cases. Most English wine will be sold at cellar door or specialist outlets but with this kind of volume it would be a surprise if more of it did not begin to appear on retail shelves. Maybe we Irish could even get hold of some.



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