Anyone reading this blog is familiar enough with Grape Expectations to know of our obsession in delivering massive downstream value, whether we are talking about basic Vin de France Chardonnay or Grand Cru Chablis. In the coming months you will notice a global spike in Chateauneuf-du-Pape prices. The short answer behind the reason for this increase is that production was way down for 2017 and 2018. It is worthwhile, however, to quickly put this into context…
Through the year 2016, Chateauneuf-du-Pape as an appellation was producing, on average, 120,000 hectoliters of AOC labeled wine per year. Earlier this year the firm Raphaël Michel, one of France’s largest bulk bottlers, was caught in a fraudulent scheme – The company had been passing off 20,000 hectoliters per year of basic level Côtes du Rhone as “Chateauneuf-du-Pape.” Raphaël Michel’s Chairman, Guillaume Ryckwaert, is now in prison, and for obvious reasons this scandal equals a 20% decrease in the appellation’s available labeled supply (yes, we now know 20% was fake, but very relevant as all of the supermarket chains who were gobbling up this “fake” Chateauneuf are still buying the same amount “authentic” Chateauneuf).
2017 was a difficult vintage in the appellation. Grenache is very sensitive to wet spring conditions, and buds had a difficult time converting into grapes. Harvest was down 30%,leaving total 2017 AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape production at a meager 70,000 hectoliters.
2018 saw similar challenges, with mildew issues driving a 35% decrease in harvested material. 2018 AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape production totaled just 65,000 hectoliters.
The above three factors mean a 43% decrease in available AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape bottled wine over the next two vintages!
Thanks to the enthusiasm of you, our partners, we are able to purchase large lots from the wineries we work with (in many instances their entire production), and this means plenty of bargaining power on our side. Negotiations for 2017’s are still taking place on several fronts, and we expect our 2017 vintage price increases to max out at 20% assuming a stable Euro/USD exchange rate of 1.15-1.20….Not bad considering the above context! At the time of press we currently have available stock of 2015 and 2016 vintage Chateauneuf-du-Pape from the below producers:
Arnoux & Fils
Crous St. Martin
Domaine Pignan (assorted bottlings)
Domaine de la Charbonnière (assorted bottlings)
Whether you are buying from us or buying from someone else, if you see domaine bottled 2015 or 2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape available on the wholesale market, do yourself a favor and load up while you can!