The yearly Hospices de Beaune auction traditionally sets a trend for Burgundy pricing, so don’t expect to see too many bargains from the 2016 vintage.
While the President’s Barrel didn’t fetch as much as last year, négociants and producers are warning that a corresponding drop in the price of 2016’s wines is unlikely.
The 2016 vintage was most growers’ worst nightmare: frosts and hail storms were followed by one of the wettest springs on record. The season ended with extreme heat during the summer causing yet more losses. All of this meant that the 2016 Burgundy harvest has seen some of the lowest yields in decades.
Thiébault Hubert, from Domaine Hubert-Verdereau in Volnay said: “For the past five vintages we have had many frost and hail incidents, all resulting in extensive losses. In 2016, we are down 60 to 70 percent on our normal production. And the total quantity harvested over the past five years is half of what our production should be.”
Hubert has been increasing his prices steadily since 2012,
and he presumes a further 15 percent increase by the time the 2015 vintage is released and a similar increase for 2016. “I do not really want to increase the price, but we have no choice. We have been very careful these last few years, and have held back from investments, but we need to continue to pay our staff; the vineyard costs remain the same, irrespectively of the yield at harvest…”
A similar story was told by Bénédicte Vincent, the PR manager of Domaine Fuissé located in Pouilly-Fuissé. A spring hailstorm destroyed about half the crop. As Pouilly-Fuissé is one of the larger appellations of the region, the wines are more price sensitive than the Volnays. Nevertheless, Vincent confirmed that their prices have been on the up for the last 10 years with more significant increases since the 2012 vintage.
This year’s auction was the second most successful in the event’s history.
Another large-volume region that has been particularly hard hit this year was Chablis, which lost up to 60 percent of its total production to spring frost or hail damage. Frédéric Guegen, president of the Chablis and Grand Auxerois sub-region, confirms that the smaller volume will result in a price hike for the consumer ranging between 10 and 15 percent, but stresses that this may change from producer to producer.
The steady increase of the average market price of Burgundy wines has been a key concern of the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB). Cécile Mathiaud, communications director at the BIVB explained: “There is a delicate balance between the price and our market share. For the very rare grand cru wines, the demand outstrips the supply, which has resulted in spiralling prices. Things have been more difficult for our entry-level wines. This is why the whole of Burgundy is working together to make sure the quality justifies the price increases of the entry level and lesser known appellations. These increases are needed to allow growers to live off their production; however for them it’s often more difficult to impose higher prices without losing significant market share.”