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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, March 2 2010. 10:12

Angelo Gaja Optimistic about Italian Wines

Despite a tough year for Italy in 2009, Angelo Gaja the iconic Piemonte and Tuscan wine claims the industry held its own without government help and sees a ray of hope and is optimistic that 2010 will be better with a weaker Euro, lesser production of 2008 and 2009 and a renewed emphasis on exports.

Although 2009 was a black year for Italian exports, 20% lower according to the official
government statistics, for Italian wine it was an all time record year with an increase in the overall volume of wine exported which was close to 10%, even if the value of the wine exported was lower by 6% from the point of view of price.

A success? Absolutely, even if there is little to cheer about because the results were achieved at the cost of painful sacrifices on the part of the cellars; a lowering of prices to the break-even point and, for those accustomed to sell only bottled wine, forced sales of surplus wine in bulk to the sole advantage of commercial bottlers who paid distress prices. Not to speak of the price of the grapes during the 2009 harvest, purchased at drastically lowered prices.

The system managed to hold its own however, indicating that this is a healthy sector of
the Italian economy, one which has developed with many different compartments and
components which work together for mutual benefit. It was a sector which was not
compelled to resort to layoffs, it did not need the assistance of government support

It also did not waste time with the usual pointless diatribes of home-grown
polemicists: native grapes versus well known French varieties, territory versus less
identifiable sources, new oak barrels versus older casks, international taste versus typical

The 2009 was certainly not a lark, the entrepreneurs of the sector were forced to
double their efforts and tighten their belts but gained results which none of their European rivals- above all the French, could even come close to.

The prospects for the export of Italian wine in 2010 are rosy. The weakening of the euro against other currencies will be of great assistance in non-European markets. The objective of exporting at least an additional 2.5 million hL of wine in the
coming year is an entirely feasible objective for Italy.

Stocks of wine will inevitably decrease, at least partially due to lower production in the
2008 and 2009 vintages.

The support programmed by the EEC and aimed at compensating producers for crop-
thinning (the elimination of surplus grape bunches during the growing season, normally
before the phase of the colour change of the grapes), if intelligently directed by the
co-operative cellars of Italy’s centre and south and correctly and carefully carried out by
the associated growers, will contribute to maintaining lower levels of production and
balancing supply and demand. And so there is a chance that Italy could arrive at the
2010 harvest this fall with prospects of a remuneration -for those who
either sell their grapes or supply them to cooperative cellars -which will at least recover 
the cost of their production.

Exports, which are of great benefit for the country, must become of obsessive
importance for those wine producers who intend to maintain their firms in healthy and
competitive shape.

Angelo Gaja
February 26, 2010


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