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Bordeaux wine sales to US see ‘spectacular recovery’

Wine lovers in the US have shown strong demand for Bordeaux in the past year, suggest new figures on shipments.

Bordeaux wine sales to the US reached a new record in 2021, jumping 67% to €349m ($390m), the Bordeaux wine council (CIVB) announced this week.

A freeze on additional import tariffs and buyers’ thirst for highly-rated recent vintages helped Bordeaux to a ‘spectacular recovery’ in terms of shipments to the US, it said.

Exports rose by 24% in volume last year to 247,000 hectolitres, equivalent to 33 million bottles.

While reds dominate, the US has also become the biggest market for Bordeaux white wines, with exports valued at more than €30m, ahead of the UK and Belgium, the CIVB said.

Bordeaux has partly benefited from a removal of an additional 25% US import tariff on French still wines – and those from some other European nations – in March 2021.

Tariffs were halted as part of a wider truce between the US and EU on a long-running trade dispute over aerospace industry subsidies.

‘I am sure the tariff suspension has had a significant impact driving demand and prices higher for top Bordeaux, but we’re seeing a general uptick in demand/pricing for all high-end wines,’ Shaun Bishop, CEO of California-based merchant JJ Buckley, told Decanter magazine’s Market Watch recently.

Global Bordeaux wine exports rise

CIVB figures also indicate strong demand for higher-end Bordeaux wines worldwide.

Global Bordeaux wine exports in 2021 rose by 9% versus 2020, to 1.89mhl, equivalent to 252 million bottles. Yet exports jumped by 30% in value to €2.3bn.

China is still the biggest destination globally for Bordeaux wines, show CIVB figures.

Exports to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau combined rose by 10% in 2021 to 402,000hl, or 54 million bottles, and by 16% in value to €616m.

Exports to Japan also rose by 10% to €120m, highlighting the ongoing importance of Asia-based buyers to Bordeaux châteaux and producers.

Things were more mixed for Bordeaux in the UK. Exports dropped by 19% in volume in 2021, to the equivalent of 20m bottles, but leapt by 31% in value to €276m (£230m). That cemented the UK’s position as the third biggest market for Bordeaux wine by value after China and the US.

In France, red Bordeaux continued to be affected by a long-term trend of falling wine consumption, the CIVB said.

French wine and spirits exports also up

France’s national wine and spirits exports for 2021 reached €15.5bn, up by 28% versus 2020 and also an 11% increase on 2019.

Export body FEVS said total wine and spirits shipments to the US rose by 34% versus 2020, to €4.1bn, and it also highlighted strong demand from the UK.

‘This positive result in 2021 is remarkable,’ said César Giron, FEVS chairman.

‘Despite remaining health, logistical and geopolitical constraints, French wines and spirits companies have shown both their willingness and their ability to bounce back in the different parts of the world.’

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