Last week I was called to give quote to ABC news for their story on the Morgan Stanley report on the topic. "Could this be really true?" the reporter Alan was in a panic, his beloved Great Western sparkling wine might be in danger, and what would he do then when he wanted his favorite kind of "champagne" cocktail.
I suspected a Chicken Little approach to news --press releases that go out on the wire primed to painc. I tried to get the original MS report before the interview but could not (and still cannot.) And, anyway, didn't anyone remember that just in 2004 the world was drowning in the Euopean Wine lake? Wasn't that a relevant part of the story?
In response to that horror, the wise EU offered financial incentive for landowners: pull out their old vines in exchange for money.
The ruse worked and acreage is down in Italy, Spain and France. It was heartbreaking to see old vines go out and housing go in. In all, according to a WineSearcher article "98,244 acres of vines were ripped out of the ground between 2008 and 2011, equivalent to 10 percent of the European vineyard area. An additional 275,186 acres were grubbed up without any financial incentive. None of the articles I found on the subject even mentioned this short-sighted EU approach. I suppose in the new world where a single vineyard could be 1,000 acres, under 400,000 of lost acres is a whisper, not a shout.
Manipulation of data and the market has always been a mosquito dive bombing me--it bugs me. Where's the truth? First a lake and then a desert? Who's twisting the data for their own purposes. The Morgan Stanely report, it seems, is oddly positioned against odds another, the OIV's. There it is stated that the world wine production has increased and consumption is stabilizing.
I started to wonder what MS had to gain in this study. The savvy blogger for Reuters, Felix Salmon had this to say,
“It was simply trying to present the idea that demand for Australian wine exports is likely to rise, and to justify the fact that a company called Treasury Wine Estates is the bank’s ‘top Australian consumer pick."
But readers of this blog should have real concerns.
Two devastating devastating vintages have ravaged some of the most important (and favorite) European vineyards in the past two years.
2012/2013 were not only backbreaking but puny in (to name a few) Burgundy and the Loire and Champagne. Austria didn't do so well either. Some smaller winemakers simply cannot afford to continue. Those that survive will show fewer and more expensive bottles. This is bad.
If people are looking for industrial strength wine--as most are-- trust me, there will be no scarcity any time soon. In time, China with technology and vast acreage possibility will come on board, they will hire marketers, they will have lovely labels --some critter some not--and out do Australia and Chile in their ability to crank out cheaper wine for the masses. What we have to worry about theare the great wines. Of those there is just not enough to go around. And yes, that is going to get worse.
That Americans and Chinese are drinking more wine and in a few years the demand will outpace the supply, is not groundbreaking news. As I told ABC, don't worry, there will be no shortage of crap around to drink, there certainly isn't now.