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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Economic crisis in Muscadet

Vines in Muscadet: an uncertain outlook

On 3rd May Ouest-France carried a report on the crisis in Muscadet provoked by the severe frost in 2008 and the attacks of mildew in 2007.

'Aujourd'hui, les vignerons nantais se rassemblent en tracteurs à La Haye-Fouassière. Malgré un millésime de qualité, le muscadet ne se vend pas. Un stock de 100 000 hl paralyse le marché.

Pourquoi le muscadet et le vignoble nantais sont-ils en crise ?
Le gel d'avril 2008 détraque le fragile équilibre du marché. Il ampute la vendange de la moitié de sa production habituelle : 300 000 hectolitres sont pressés contre 600 000 hl en année moyenne. Insuffisant pour satisfaire les besoins des entreprises de négoce qui écoulent 70 % des volumes à destination de la grande distribution et de l'export. Pour se couvrir, le négoce allonge l'oseille. Les prix à la production doublent, avec un pic à 230 €/hl. Les grandes surfaces répercutent la hausse alors que la crise assèche les porte-monnaie. Le muscadet à 5 € la bouteille reste en carafe. Il subit une douche écossaise sur son plus gros marché d'exportation, en Angleterre, où ses ventes reculent de 67 %.'

Lire la suite 

The current crsis rather mirrors the similar crisis that occurred after the equally severe frost in 1991.


Chris Piper said...


There are a number of reasons for the current crisis in Muscadet and why the UK imports of this wine have fallen so much. Obviously, the strength of the Euro against Sterling has made it a much more expensive wine than it was two years' ago. The complete lack of marketing of Muscadet in the UK as a seafood/ fish wine is beyond me, especially at a time when fish etc. is regarded as healthy and 'chic' in the on-trade! However, the lamentable quality of so much Muscadet sold in our market here is probably the biggest reason for its demise. Just when we thought that the guys from Muscadet had sorted out their quality issues (2000 until maybe 2007) along comes another batch of terribly poor, acidic and fruitless wine to ruin all the hard work put in by the growers and negoçiants to restore its image during the firt half of the 00's. I guess this re-appearance of the 'bad old days' wine can be explained by the UK supermarkets' desire to buy the lowest-common-denominator wine as possible and the absolute necessity of many Muscadet growers to move on their stocks at any price they could/ can get.

What a shame. Muscadet in its best form is unbeatable. There is nowhere in the world that can emmulate the citric, dry fruity intensity that the Loire Atlantique, its soils and its Melon can offer.

I suspect that the Muscadet authorities will have to do what we have done in Beaujolais which is grub up the peripheral, marginal vineyards and bring the region back to its core villages and terroirs.

A voire!


Jim's Loire said...

It is a shame Chris, although I do think that the best growers have kept the quality up.

The 2009s that were entered for the Decanter World Wine Awards showed fairly well.

I suspect that the high proportion of Muscadet sold through the négoce is part of the recent problem along with the supermarkets demand for unrealistic prices.

A few years ago there was a programme to reduce to area planted but I'm not sure that it shrank by very much.

It would be ironic if the excess stocks from the very small 2008 vintage had to be distilled.

Chris Piper said...

Indeed, Jim, there are still some really excellent growers producing some quite delicious wines. They prove that you can sell MSMSL at a decent price but a large part of these wines that are shipped in to the UK ends up in restaurants who take a pride in what they list. However, the big wholesalers in this country have sales people who prefer to flog lolly-pop wines from the New World at sub-£5 prices and can't get their heads around the wonderful individuality of wines like Muscadet. In our own little way in the south-west, we have seen our sales of Muscadet through the on-trade actually increase!

Jim's Loire said...

Chris. You are right there is a ready market for good quality Muscadet. It is well perceived on the wine pages forum, which I see you have just joined – welcome – as well as blogs, especially in North America.

Loire courtier Charles Sydney was telling me before this years Salon that he needed wine in bottle at €1.20 to hit the required price points. How can you expect quality at that price?