Coronavirus, in Germany and Great Britain, the Italy Vineyard struggles: fewer purchases and falling prices – La Stampa


Yield reduction, administrative storage and even temporary shutdown of new plants. Here are the measures that the DOC and DOCG world of Vigneto Italia is putting in place to deal with the negative impact and to avoid speculation on prices linked to the coronavirus emergency. These days, in fact, many protection consortia have chosen, autonomously, to anticipate government intervention with an eye to the cellars – where the level of stocks is higher than last year with the new harvest on the doorstep – and the other to international markets with the risk of the arrival of possible duties imposed by the USA. “The producers – explains Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, the president of FederDoc, the association of voluntary protection consortia – have shown a great sense of responsibility at this time by putting in place all the measures they have to avoid going to weigh down the market and to devalue the wine heritage that is already in the cellar ». Ricci Curbastro enhances the voluntary characteristic of this choice – “decided autonomously in the individual consortium assemblies” – but it is also the acknowledgment that one must act quickly even without waiting for institutional interventions. The reason? According to data from the Vinitaly-Nomisma Wine Monitor Observatory on imports in the first quarter of 2020 by Germany and the United Kingdom there was a decrease of 8.9% and 13.3% respectively, and only in April buyers Germans bought the minus 19.7% in value and the British ones 17.5%. “The most worrying figure now concerns pressure on prices,” says Denis Pantini, head of the Vinitaly-Nomisma Wine Monitor Observatory. In the first quarter, the average import price of Italian bottled still wines was 2.46 euros / liter in Great Britain and 3.26 euros / liter in Germany. In April, the price had fallen to 2.02 euros (-18%) on the English market and 3.01 on the German market, with a drop of 7%. For Pantini, this is proof that “retailers are putting pressure on producers also in light of the first signs of recession that are emerging in these countries and that forcefully they will also affect wine purchases”. And then there is the topic of stocks. According to the “Cantina Italia” bulletin of 17 June, the overall total is still slightly below the average of last year (-2.5%) thanks to the notable decline in common wines (-12.4%) which in recent months have managed to make more market with large retailers. For PGI, stocks increase but remain slightly below the 2019 level (-1.2%) while for PDOs, which represent more than half of the Italian wine product, they are already at + 1.4%, with reds being reached 2.7%. And if for the long-aging great reds, stocks should not be a problem, for other denomination wines, the large stocks leave openings to speculative conduct on the eve of a new harvest.

If this is so, then, the world of wine has decided to put into practice an old proverb: “Help yourself that God helps you”. And so in these days in the FederDoc offices a monitoring was started on which interventionist choice was made by the individual consortia. The Valpolicella Consortium, for example, has decided to cut yields and stop new plants: «We try to give an answer to an anomalous situation which in any case will ask us to deal with the market in the medium term and with the quota of a vineyard that has grown by 26% in the last 10 years », explains the director Olga Bussinello. Soave has also chosen the way of cutting yields as well as Chianti, Etna Doc (which however will officially decide on 9 July), Alto Adige Doc, Frascati and even Prosecco Valdobbiadene. “The balance of the supply chain has always been the watchword and at the same time the secret of the success of our denomination”, explains Fabrizio Bindocci, the president of the Brunello di Montalcino Wine Consortium. This is why the assembly of producers decided “for this year the reduction of the quantities of grapes destined for Brunello from 8,000 to 7,000 kilos per hectare (with the exception of the first hectare), with the remaining 1,000 kilos to be destined for Rosso di Montalcino” . From Veneto, Albino Armani, president of the Consorzio delle Venezie, adds: «We have worked with the representatives of the DOC trivenete arriving at a collegial vision and therefore at concrete territorial management measures on the single denominations: the reduction of the yield certifiable to 150 quintals per hectare and the activation of administrative storage and organic incentives for maintaining the value of Pinot Gris ».

Piedmont, on the other hand, has chosen different paths. Filippo Mobrici, president of the Consortium for the protection of Barbera, Vini d’Asti and Monferrato, explains that before making a decision on returns, he expects to know the definitive data of the month of June on stocks. In any case, “we will move in line with the indications of the national law which aims at voluntary reduction by producers by making 100 million available”. The Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe and Dogliani Protection Consortium has instead decided to introduce a harvest reserve equal to 10% of the maximum grape production allowed for the Barolo and Barbaresco Docg. The BoD has also chosen to reduce the quantity of wine not destined for the PDO, by changing the destination of the production redundancies of all the denominations, with the exception of Verduno Pelaverga Doc and Dogliani Dogc. Production redundancies will therefore be reduced from the current 20% of the yield per hectare to 5%, with the remaining 15% mandatory for alternative uses, such as distillation. «We are obviously ready to intervene with further measures, if necessary in the coming months. Our goal was and remains the enhancement and promotion of our denominations through differentiated and targeted strategies, “comments Matteo Ascheri, president of the Consortium.

The Prosecco consortium, on the other hand, decided to focus on preventive storage, and in Calabria the Cirò and Melissa protection consortium also married the interventionist line without, at least for now, going into the merits of the measures.

Alberto Mazzoni, director of the Marche Institute of Wine Protection, sees it this way: “The measures relating to distillation or the green harvest as well as having a very low impact in the Marche risk penalizing quality productions such as ours. We are discussing – he added – within our large family (15 names, starting from Verdicchio) to intervene with a view to a possible quota of production volumes “.

While waiting to know the guidelines for the allocation of the one hundred million public funds made available by the government to encourage the voluntary quota of returns by individual producers, regional interventions have also arrived. Basilicata, for example, has made available 700 thousand euros for those who choose to use this agronomic practice which consists in the total elimination of the bunches of grapes from the plant before they reach maturity, reducing the yield of the relative wine-growing area to zero. In the past, this choice had also been made by Sicily and it is not excluded that a similar decision will also be taken this year. Lombardy, on the other hand, has allocated 3 million to encourage the purchase of Lombard wine with discounts and launch a communication and promotion campaign.

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