BORDEAUX VINEYARDS ON 'WAIT AND SEE' MODE ON BREXIT EVE
Some wine producers in France are struggling to have their production sent to Britain by March 29, in case there is no agreement on Brexit.
At Château Bauduc where pallets and cartons are ready to go, Gavin Quinney has anticipated six weeks of bottling for all his wine to be delivered to Britain before the fateful date of March 29, in case there is no agreement on Brexit. At the head of 25 hectares in the Entre-Deux-Mers countryside, this British intends to take no risk even if "like everyone else" he joins the current state of mind: "wait and see" (wait duty).
At the edge of the vineyards denuded by the winter, two trucks have just left his vineyard in Créon, 25 km from Bordeaux, loaded with red 2016 and white and rosé 2018. In all, 40,000 bottles will leave from here end of March in British warehouses, six months of stock to provide including restaurants. "We try to send as much wine as possible to England," said the winemaker who also encourages his thousands of customers across the Channel to order or pick up their wine in Calais.
"The conditions of wine transport in the case of a non-agreement after March 29th could be very difficult, there is a real risk, it's 50/50" of poker that he is not ready to play. He is particularly concerned about the lengthening of the deadlines for delivering wine and paperwork, but especially the competition from Australia for example, which would force him to look for other markets. Because Gavin Quinney directly sells his wine in Britain, or 60% of its production, without going through the powerful trade that sells a bottle in two in the Bordeaux.
IT'S HALF-HALF, IT'S FIFTY-FIFTY
For the main merchants of the place de Bordeaux, it is time to wait. Pallets of wine are ready to go, but no massive shipment of bottles to Britain has been made in Bordeaux. "I have no stock in England, but the wines are ready to go to warehouses to be six months ahead and avoid stockouts of our customers," says the Bordeaux trader Benoît Calvet, who gives himself until early March to possibly send several hundred pallets.
Present in this country since the 70s, his main market, he says "attentive but not worried": "the English are pragmatic, not emotional and the kings of business.I am confident they will find a solution! a little at the start, but at the business level, England will remain an essential platform of the trade ". The interprofession confirms it: the main Bordeaux merchants have not "deported from stock in Britain", its fourth market in value, while noting a good activity since the end of 2018.
In the last 12 months, exports abroad fell by 12% in volume due to the weak 2017 harvest, but in Great Britain, 180,000 hectoliters were shipped, an increase of 1%. It is "certainly linked to anticipation of purchase to guard against a blockage or difficulties to import wines", according to the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux wine (CIVB).
"THE MARKET WILL BE IMPROVED BY BREXIT"
But other reasons than the uncertainty related to Brexit can explain this interest of the English, as the purchase of good vintages or their historical links with Bordeaux dating back to the 12th century and Aliénor of Aquitaine, according to professionals. So far, the English market has remained in Bordeaux but a "too hard Brexit" could change the game and leave the field open to Australia, South Africa, Chile or Argentina, according to traders and experts.
"The effect on the currency is more important than the exit of England.If there is no agreement, it is certain that the pound will be depreciated and our wines will be less competitive," says Jérémy Cukierman, Director of the Kedge Wine and Spirits Academy in Bordeaux, before nuance: "What is rare and prestigious, there will always be people to buy them.The top of the market will be less impacted than the rest."