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Price Hikes Predicted Following Unfruitful Burgundy Harvest

The grand cru vineyards of Corton and Corton-Charlemagne in Burgundy's Côte de Beaune
© BIVB / H. Monnier | The grand cru vineyards of Corton and Corton-Charlemagne in Burgundy's Côte de Beaune
Celebrated wine region bounces back from the global financial crisis with a bang, but can supply keep up with demand?

Sales of Burgundy wine have risen to record highs, but the region’s wine board has warned that a difficult growing season means the 2012 harvest will be severely reduced, leading to rising prices.

Burgundy’s wine exports have also hit new heights, helped by impressive growth in both Japan and Hong Kong, said the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB).

“The figures are rather good,” the organization's president, Pierre-Henry Gagey, told a news conference on Wednesday in Beaune.

Total exports increased 15 percent in value in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period in 2011, reaching a record 405.5 million euros ($523.5m).

Increased demand from Asia has been responsible for Burgundy’s strong performance. Sales to Japan have risen 34 percent by value, to Hong Kong 42 percent and to China 65 percent.

However, with the increased demand, the region was hoping for a healthy harvest to replenish its stocks, but the 2012 crop will be 20 percent smaller than last year's. “We’re expecting a harvest of 1.2 to 1.3 million hectoliters in Burgundy,” said BIVB vice-president Michel Baldassini. That compares with last year's 1.58 million hectoliters.

The region’s most celebrated district, the Côte d'Or, has been hardest hit, with yields reduced by as much as 70 percent. The Beaujolais crop is down by half.

 “The 2012 harvest will go down in history as one of the smallest – of a size never seen in living memory,” the BIVB added.

Burgundy grape growers have experienced a difficult year, battling frost and hail, disease and heatwaves.

But Gagey forecast that quality would still be high and prices would rise.

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