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Supplies of transparent bottles for white and rosé wines turn into a “nightmare”

By Vitisphere May 09, 2022
Supplies of transparent bottles for white and rosé wines turn into a “nightmare”
Supply pressure has reached breaking point for transparent bottles and is affecting all dry goods for packaging, including capsules, cardboard and wooden cases - crédit photo : Alexandre Abellan (Vitisphere)

hen asked how supplies of transparent bottles for white and rosé wines are panning out in the first half of 2022 for the 2021 vintage, Arnaud Sauvaire of the namesake estate in AOC Languedoc sums up the situation as “a nightmare”. Sauvaire is at the helm of the 25-hectare Domaine des Sauvaire in the Gard area of southern France. Vitisphere met him at the ‘Dégustez en V.O!’ trade show at the beginning of May in Montpellier. Whilst considering other packaging options to make his life easier – including PET bottles – he was ultimately able to bottle all his wines on time. His sense of relief is heightened by the fact that his supplier has told him that he will not be able to supply him with any more bottles before the summer.

Throughout the aisles of the Montpellier exhibition, stories of postponed bottling due to lack of bottles, or foil caps or labels, were rife, as were the multiple causes explaining supply tensions. These include low inventories at glass manufacturers since the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine along with less publicised causes such as strikes in factories and stockpiling worsening the crisis. Unilaterally revised terms of purchase have also compounded the problems for winegrowers, with non-negotiable price increases, payment on delivery, increases in the minimum order limit and changes to heavier formats, to name a few.  “Whatever the issue, it's take it or leave it. We have no say, it's first come, first served”, sighed one Languedoc winegrower.

In order to meet their deadlines, some firms are switching strategies. “Our supplies were on the verge of running out for bottling our wines, but by chance, our glassmaker made up the shortfall with recycled glass. It wasn't the style we wanted, but it meant we could bottle everything”, explained Lise Fons-Vincent, who heads up Château de Fourques and its 50-hectare vineyard in Juvignac, near Montpellier. “We weren’t expecting these difficulties, it was not what we anticipated. Lead times range from 1 to 3-4 months with shortages”, added Fons-Vincent. At another Languedoc estate, the launch of a new range of rosé wines was simply cancelled, for fear of not having the right bottle style in time. “Even with a firm contract, we are no longer sure of getting our order on time”, confirmed one winegrower from Hérault.

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