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Chablis prices to rise as weather hits 2016 vintage

Wine lovers will be paying more for Chablis in the next couple of years, after bad weather has already cut the 2016 harvest by as much as 50%, according to one expert.

  • Chablis prices almost certain to rise, says Louis Moreau
  • 2016 vintage to produce just 20 million bottles

There will be a major Chablis shortfall following what will be one of the Chardonnay-producing region’s most reduced harvests in living memory, according to Louis Moreau, owner of the highly regarded eponymous domaine and vice president of the Chablis Commission at the Burgundy wine bureau (BIVB).

Speaking at a ‘Pure Chablis’ lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire on Friday (1 July), Moreau said that the Chablis 2016 vintage will be up to 50% smaller than average.

It is difficult to quantify the subsequent supply deficit, but it seems inevitable that prices will rise, he said.

Chablis 2016: ‘I can’t recall a vintage like it’

‘There’s no question that 2016 has been difficult and challenging so far with frost, rain, hail and mildew. I can’t recall a vintage like it. Certainly, we have seen nothing like it in the last 40-50 years.’

Moreau added, ‘I hope we have a good vintage from now until October. But whatever happens it can’t undo what has already occurred. Last month, in June, we had the equivalent of six months rain.’

This came hard on the heels of a massive hailstorm on 13 May which hit 400 hectares of vineyards in Chablis.

‘Impact on prices’

‘Fortunately, 2015 and 2014 provided good quantity and good quality so we have reasonably healthy stock levels.

‘But with just 20m bottles from 2016, things are going to be very, very tough and it will have an inevitable impact on prices.

‘There’s no question that there will be a ‘gestion de crise’ [crisis strategy], which will require us to manage our existing stocks very carefully to spread them out over the next two years.’

Healthy demand for Chablis

But, Moreau said producers couldn’t complain too much; healthy demand for Chablis around the world is a good thing, after all.

‘There are lots of positives for the 300 Chablis domaines and co-ops,’ he said.

‘Our quality and image are high and exports which represent about 65% are very good in all our main markets including the UK and US. And overall demand is much stronger than the annual 40 million bottles which Chablis produces on average.’

Editing by Chris Mercer.

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