The Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) has elected two presidents at its annul general meeting last week to head the wine association for the next four years, as Burgundy tries to rebalance supply and demand following a historically low yield, and steer itself out of the pandemic.
The current president François Labet will continue in his role representing the winegrowing side of the business, while Laurent Delaunay from the storied Maison Edouard Delaunay will serve as co-president for the next four years.
Delaunay from the Nuits Saint George based Bourgundian house will take over from Louis-Fabrice Latour and Frédéric Drouhin.
“This election comes at a time when the industry and the region are entering an intense and challenging period,” says Delaunay after the vote, summarizing the general consensus. “Firstly, I should like to praise the work of my predecessors, Louis-Fabrice Latour and Frédéric Drouhin, who, along with François Labet, led the BIVB during a complex mandate that involved overseeing the project for the Cités des Climats et Vins de Bourgogne while facing the COVID crisis.”
Cités des Climats et Vins de Bourgogne is a network of wine centers in three different locations in Beaune, Macon and Chablis, designed to showcase the renowned French wine region’s diverse terroir and wine culture.
They were expected to open in 2020 but were delayed by Covid.
Historically low harvest
While the 2021 harvest was historically low, estimated at between 900-950,000 hectoliters, exports of Bourgogne wines are breaking new records: Up 20% by volume and up 24.5% in value to more than €1 billion over the first 10 months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.
Sales in France are also doing very well, but vintners have to manage stocks carefully as market demand far outpaces squeezed supply due to climatic challenges, and hope for a bountiful harvest in 2022.
François Labet underscored the paradox of this situation in his report: “You will notice that we haven’t talked much about the economy and today’s markets. The reason is simple: Our future depends on returning to previous production levels and keeping a foothold in our markets.
Going forward, Labet underscored the association’s long-term commitment to promoting Bourgogne wine’s development and market outreach.
“We have become investors,” François Labet continued. “By that I mean that we are no longer satisfied with financing interesting research operations; we want to actively participate in their design and development. This does not mean that the BIVB wants to be project manage all these actions – that is not our purpose. Rather, the BIVB wants to promote the work that is being done, and the recent recruitment of two people by the Technical and Quality Department should help accelerate this.”
He reminded the audience that the BIVB has a strong focus on communication as an essential connection to markets, insisting that: “For the time being, we must also keep in touch with our customers. […] This is why we are counting on some large-scale gatherings in 2022 where we can interact face-to-face with all those who can join us in France or abroad.”
He referred to events organized in France, such as Wine Paris-Vinexpo which will take place from 14-16 February, the Grands Jours du Bourgogne which will run from 21-25 March, and the Grand Bourgogne Hotel in Paris slated for Q2 (late June-early July).
There will also be a series of new tastings in export markets, to bring together producers, traders, and importers. These will be called “Les Grandes Retrouvailles”, and will run in London on 7 March, Montreal on 16 May, New York on 17 May, Los Angeles on 19 May, and Tokyo on 11 July.
Under the two presidents, the wine trade body will also push for social responsibility drive.
“We must face up to the great expectations society has for us industry professionals in terms of the environment, climate change, transparency, responsibility, product quality, and quality of life. These are what customers and consumers around the world want,” says Delaunay.
“The region and the industry have already launched several exemplary initiatives around these issues. In terms of the environment, these include the ‘Engageons nos terroirs dans nos Territoires’ action plan governing the use of phytosanitary products, an ongoing project to become carbon neural, and the continued promotion of the Climats of Bourgogne; a world reference in terms of sustainable viticulture,” he added.