Demand for Chablis is outstripping supply and the Chablis Union has warned growers against losing future sales by raising prices too high.
Limited supplies look likely to be further reduced by hailstorms earlier in the year, which according to reports destroyed 1,000 to 1,500 hectares out of a total Chablis growing area of just over 4,700ha.
Room for expansion of the current planting area is thought to be between 500 and 1,000ha.
‘Chablis is very complicated,’ said Paul Aegerter, of Maison Aegerter in Nuits St George. ‘I have an order for 80,000 bottles and I can only provide 40,000. I am in a champagne-like situation.’
Negociants estimate that Chablis prices have risen over the last four or five years. Average prices of €350-450 for a 132l half-barrel (or feuillette) have risen to €500.
Prices for must – the unfermented grape juice sold in bulk by growers to negociants during September – are up from about €500 per feuillette in 2006, to €500-600 this year.
Fears about prices escalating have prompted the local Chablis Association to warn producers not to be too greedy.
Arnaud Valour, local representative of the BIVB (Bureau Interprofessional des Vins de Bourgogne) in Chablis confirmed the association had been trying to better inform growers about market reactions to price increases, but stressed there was no question of setting prices.
‘We have tried to show that when prices go up significantly, sales volumes go down – for example in supermarket sales,’ he said. ‘Doubling the price of a bottle will not help to stabilise our markets.’
Current total harvest volumes for the area have risen from 265,965 hectolitres in 2002, to 279,203hl in 2006.
Written by Sophie Kevany