France is world's number one but there is trouble in Champagne
Each year France and Italy battle it out over which is the world's biggest wine producer and this year it is the turn of France with an expected 4.8 billion litres of wine that will surpass Italy's forecast of 4.7 billion litres. Italy's wine union say the decrease in output is to do with farmers being incentivised to dig up vines under the European wine reforms.
But it is not all good news for the French. In Champagne producers and wine merchants will meet next week to discuss how they will cut back production in order to prop up prices and the burning question is by how much. With falling sales merchants may try to force producers into leaving up to half their grapes unpicked in order to reduce yields and ensure Champagne remains a luxury item.
Sales have slumped from 338 million bottles in 2007 to 322 million last year and a predicted 270 million this year.
Under a system similar to Opec’s regulation of oil production, merchants and vineyards will hold a meeting on Wednesday to set the maximum yield. If they fail to agree, the figure will be established by the regional prefect, who represents the French Government. The decision is binding and vineyards that exceed the limit would face legal action.