Wine lovers in the US, UK and several other major markets appeared to show greater interest in Burgundy Crémant wines in 2019.
Burgundy’s wine council, the BIVB, reported that exports of Crémant de Bourgogne sparkling wines to the US rose by nearly 23% in both volume and value in 2019.
Exports to the UK rose more quickly, by nearly 67% in volume and 42% in value, although the BIVB added that Crémant only makes up 3% of Burgundy’s wine shipments to the country.
Merchants in Japan also bought significantly more Crémant wines last year, with exports up by nearly 40% in volume and 23% in value.
Sparkling wines have become increasingly popular around the world, and the BIVB figures highlight how French Crémant sparkling wines in general may pose fresh competition for more established names, such as Prosecco or even Champagne in some price categories.
However, a relatively small 2019 harvest in Burgundy meant that producers have been forced to use reserve wines to maintain Crémant supply, said the BIVB.
Without the reserves, the 2019 harvest for Crémant sparkling wines would have been 21% down on the five-year average, and around 42% lower than 2018, said the BIVB.
Record Burgundy exports in 2019, but concerns linger for 2020
Higher demand for Crémant helped to cement a record year for overall Burgundy wine exports in 2019, with shipments hitting nearly €1.04bn. That’s a 10% increase on the previous year, and it also reflects the bigger 2018 harvest in the region.
But, as previously reported, the recently-introduced US import tariffs on still wines at 14% abv or below caused a drop-off in French wine exports in the final months of the year.
These tariffs are set to continue until at least August 2020, and there are naturally also concerns around the challenges posed by the outbreak of coronavirus strain Covid-19.
Both of these issues have, however, put ongoing uncertainty over Brexit in a degree of context, according to the BIVB.
‘Brexit had long been a subject of concern for the French wine industry, but now appears less troubling compared to the Trump tax [US tariffs] or the economic fallout of the coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic in China,’ it said.