French Bulk-Wine Prices Rise, Lift Whites to Three-Year High

French bulk-wine prices rose last week, rebounding from a drop and driving white wines to the highest level in more than three years after two below-average harvests reduced supply.

Bulk white wine without a geographic indication gained to 81.05 euros ($111.80) for 100 liters (26.4 gallons) from 77.82 euros a week earlier, data released by crop office FranceAgriMer showed. That’s the highest since February 2010, spokeswoman Virginie Nicolet said by telephone today. Prices were at 67.66 euros at the start of August.

France produced 42.3 million hectoliters (1.12 billion gallons) of wine this year, up 2.4 percent from 2012 and 6.8 percent below the five-year average, the Agriculture Ministry estimates. Rot caused “major” harvest losses of white-wine grapes in Burgundy and Beaujolais, while rain in Charentes resulted in rot on the white ugni blanc grape that’s usually not susceptible to gray mold, the ministry reported last month.

“There’s not that much wine, so prices are rising,” Philippe Janvier, in charge of wine statistics at the crop office, said by phone today. “The seasonal correction at the start of the season has been limited.”

Clearing Cellars

French bulk-wine prices typically fall toward the end of the season and the start of the next one as vintners seek to clear out cellars before the new vintage, Janvier said. Reduced inventories following the small 2012 harvest means the volume on offer was reduced, he said.

“The 2012 harvest wasn’t very big, so stocks had already declined, and for 2013-14 we’re finding ourselves with not very large availability,” Janvier said. “We’ve already seen the Charentes Cognac region put less volume on the market. That’s a region that contributes white volumes.”

Bulk red and rose wine without a geographic indication gained to 69.23 euros a hectoliter last week from 67.78 euros in the prior period, FranceAgriMer data showed. Prices reached 70.94 euros two weeks earlier, the highest since at least 1995.

Prices of red and rose wine with a protected geographic indication and mention of the grape variety advanced to 77.44 euros a hectoliter from 77.35 euros a week earlier and 75.31 euros at the season’s start. Costs for white wine with the same criteria rose to 92.05 euros from 91.53 euros in the previous week and 89.54 euros at the start of the 2013-14 season.

Trade in red and rose wine amounted to 356,454 hectoliters last week and 154,712 hectoliters of white were bought and sold.

Trading in bulk wines is greatest in the December-March period, with prices typically peaking in December and January, according to Janvier.

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