France’s wine industry presents itself in high spirits

ProWein: France’s wine industry presents itself in high spirits The French winegrowers are following the call of the ProWein 2004 (29 February to 2 March) to Düsseldorf in droves. They are coming to show the German and international trade audience that France is still the undisputed Grande Nation of wine. The large well-known regions, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace and the Rhône, are not the only ones flying the flag in Düsseldorf. The smaller growing areas along the Loire, or from South-West France, and the wine regions of Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon, with their typical types of vines and wine varieties, are also contributing to the richness of the French range of wines. From Grand Crus and quality wines from the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée to Vins de Pays – wines from France offer an otherwise unparalleled variety to suit every taste and every purse. With over 3,100 m² of exhibition space in Halls 4 and 5, the French exhibitors are the third largest nation at the ProWein 2004 behind Germany and Italy.

Positive trend on the German market in 2003

A glass of good wine is a pure delight for the connoisseur. Passion is a necessary ingredient of winegrowing, but wine production is also a business that has been hit harder over the last few years. The French have had to face up to the fact that the sun also shines in other countries and the winegrowers there – often with know-how from France – prepare good wines. The wines from the “new” countries have been penetrating the German market for years and competing with the French. In the last three years the volume of exports to Germany, the second-largest export market for French wines after Great Britain, has consistently fallen. In 2002 Germany imported 2.94 million hectolitres of wine (-1.1%). The value of wines exported to German came to € 694 million, i.e. a growth rate of 1%. Thus Germany ranks in third place after Great Britain and the USA with respect to the value of wines exported from France.

The climate for French wines has improved once again. As the organisation for the promotion of French food, beverages and tobacco, Sopexa, reports, the consumption figures for wines from France are positive in a generally depressed market. And in the first six months of 2003 France was able to post a small export plus again after three years.

New trends from France

The French wine scene has been sparked into action. Shocked by an export report by the French Ministry of Agriculture in 2001, which identified falling market shares in key export markets, a debate was triggered as to how France’s international competitiveness could be strengthened. Three points crop up again and again in the discussion: France cannot afford to rest on its laurels in terms of the quality of its wines. French wines must be geared more to the needs of international markets. Lastly, advertising for French wines abroad must become more efficient.

The trend as regards exhibition innovations from France is towards the creation of new, modern product lines. These are mainly easily accessible, uncomplicated wines for younger consumers. The numerous and unclear Chateau and Domaine bottles are being contrasted with more branded wines. The creation of branded wines is not just restricted to vin ordinaire. Wines from the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée are increasingly being launched on the market under umbrella brands. This development is combined with increasing concentration tendencies within the French wine industry.

More conservative wine drinkers do not however have to fear a decline in the variety of French wine. They will also be able to obtain individual wines from France with plenty of character in the future. A second trend from France is becoming apparent at the ProWein, namely an increased tendency towards the vineyard and the cultivation of vines. This trend is partly due to biological growing methods, but especially integrated cultivation – the French have created a generally recognised mark of control and quality within a short time with the label “terra vitis” – is literally gaining ground in France.

In order to improve the opportunities for commercialising their wines, the small, independent growers are exploring new avenues. Thus, the firm Exlwine, which was founded in July 2003, is representing around 300 select winegrowers from all the French wine regions for the first time.

Pleasant moments in Hall 5
Why does God proverbially like living in France so much? It is not paradise on earth, but anyone wandering through Hall 5 with a sensitive palate and an inquisitive eye will find a whole host of pleasant moments opening up to them. So, make sure you allow yourself enough time to pay a visit to Champagne Billecart-Salmon (Champagne), Dopff au Moulin (Elsass), Bouvet-Ladubay (Loire), Les Vins Louis Tete (Beaujolais), Domaine Alain Geoffroy (Chablis), Rolet Pere et fils (Jura), Montus Boucassé, Etienne Brana (Südwesten), Domaine Henri Bourgois (Sancerre), Chateau Dutruch Grand Poujeaux (Médoc), Domaines, Louis Latour (Burgund) and many other winegrowers from France. You can also of course look forward to the first cask samples of the highly praised 2003 vintage. The Sopexa stand (Hall 5, A19-E90) will give you an initial guide to the products on offer. A selection of around 300 wines will be available here for tasting on all three exhibition days.