Due to what is being called “an exceptionally small harvest,” New Zealand, the world’s second largest producer of Sauvignon Blanc after France, may not be able to meet global demand over the coming year.
A representative from Pernod Ricard, owner of Brancott Estate, has explained that extreme spring frosts have severely impacted crop yields, the poor weather follows an premature budburst, which affected white grape varieties in Marlborough.
Speaking with The Drinks Business on the effects of the low yield, the Pernod Ricard representative explained:
“The Sauvignon Blanc yields in Marlborough alone are 30% down. The reality is that Pernod Ricard Winemakers will be unable to meet global Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc demand this year after one of the smallest harvests in many years.
“There is very little, if any, 2020 vintage stock remaining due to the strong ongoing demand for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in most key markets, which has added to the issues created by the small 2021 vintage.”
Villa Maria’s chief global sales and marketing officer, Matt Deller, added that “near-drought conditions” in the three months leading up to the 2021 harvest had compounded the damage inflicted by spring frosts.
There is a tone of optimism though, since Matt Deller went on to explain that this shortage may encourage drinkers to sample other wines from other sources.
“A shortage in Sauvignon Blanc will likely engender an increased interest in Villa Maria’s wines beyond Sauvignon – we have a good amount of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, rosé and Bordeaux reds for consumers to enjoy,”
Nevertheless, the industry is concerned that winegrowers in Marlborough are facing a perfect storm of reduced supply, increased production costs and ongoing labour shortages, due to the pandemic.
“From a financial perspective, lower volumes are leading to increased costs.
“This is being compounded by increased input costs and ongoing labour shortages due to the closure of borders in New Zealand.”
Brent Marris, owner of Marisco Vineyards, expanded that “in some cases, we can push through a price increase, but we are taking a very holistic view. What happens if we have an exceptionally high-volume crop next year, do we drop our prices? The supply strain has offered us many potential sales opportunities, which we have had to decline.”
But there is some good news for winemakers in New Zealand’s biggest wine region. Growers are united in their excitement over the “exceptional quality” of wines being produced from the vintage.
“Our key varietals, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir have progressed from promising ferments into outstanding base wines,” said Greg Rowdon, GM for viticulture and winemaking at Yealands Wine Group.
“The level of concentration, intensity and purity of flavour emerging will see vintage 2021 wines deliver exceptional quality for consumers.”