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San_Gimignano e vigne di vernaccia

THE ADVANCE OF WHITE WINES AND EXCESS PRODUCTION

Vernaccia di San Gimignano

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE CHANGE IN WINE CONSUMPTION FROM RED TO WHITE AND THE NEED TO RECONVERT WHICH ESPECIALLY CONCERNS TUSCANY, THE LAND OF SANGIOVESE

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini #winedestination

Vernaccia di San Gimignano

San_Gimignano e vigne di vernaccia

The ISMEA 2024 wine sheet is an excellent observation point and helps us frame the Italian situation in the global scenario. On the planet, wine consumption fell from 246 million hectolitres in 2018 to 232 in 2022 while production, net of the 2018 big harvest and the 2023 slide, remained almost stable at 252 million hectolitres. What has changed is the colour: in the last 5 years the production of white wines has gone from 55% to 57.7% of the total. So the excess production is red in colour and this explains the massive clearing of vineyards in the less reputed areas of Bordeaux and the rumours of similar measures also in Spain.

One wonders whether these interventions will be enough to save the fall in prices, given the continuous increase in production in the areas without European regulations and production costs. I’m thinking of Chile, Argentina or China.

STOCKS ARE GROWING WE NEED TO STOP PLANTING VINEYARDS EVERYWHERE

Let’s now look at the Italian situation: our country normally produces around 50 million hectolitres of wine but last year, due to a rainy and hot climate, it dropped to 38. Of this volume, over half is made up of 77 DOCG, 118 DOC and 527 DOP and IGP.

As we well know, per capita consumption is decreasing in Italy and is now at 37 litres per year with an increasingly higher average age of drinkers due to a growing lack of interest among young people. This has caused the unsold volume in the wineries to rise, which is now equal to a harvest and this explains why the cries of pain after last year’s disastrous harvest were not so loud and prices did not fall as much as in France.

To better understand the fragility of the Italian system and the repercussions of the change in preferences from reds to whites (the latter holds 59% of current domestic consumption), let’s examine two other data.

 

THE CRITICAL ISSUES ARISING FROM PRODUCTION PARCELLIZATION AND THE ORIENTATION TOWARDS RED

Italian wine production takes place in 241,000 companies with vineyards, among which 27 large wineries alone hold 42% of the value produced and half of exports. In our nation there are 30,000 bottlers and the region with the most companies of this type is Tuscany with 5,100.

My region has however taken a virtuous path towards wines with denomination and an equally virtuous action towards internationalization but it has a big problem. Tuscany mainly produces reds and few bubbles while the Triveneto, Lombardy and Piedmont do not have, or no longer have, this characteristic. This explains the backlash on exports which is particularly heavy for Tuscany (-68 million Euros -7.5%) and the urgency to reconvert. Therefore Vermentino della Maremma is a first response but there could be others such as the relaunch of Vernaccia particularly in the aged versions, the recovery of volcanic wines such as Bianco di Pitigliano and perhaps Pulcinculo from the inland hills further south.