Blog: Chris Brook-CarterA Loire unto itself

Chris Brook-Carter | 22 June 2004

The modern perception of the French wine sector is that the international consolidation that is helping define much of the New World will either take an age to grip the home of Claret and chateaux or pass it by altogether.

But news out of the Loire suggests this is not altogether fair. Various wine producers and dealers in the region are responding to falling sales by making alliances and mergers, but they are, of course, just on a smaller scale than the radar busting deals being done in Australia and California.

The region's biggest dealer in still wines, Vinival, for example, is up for sale, with the local wine co-operative Alliance Loire cited as a favourite for the acquisition. If the transaction goes ahead, say observers, it will create a dominant entity on the market for Loire Valley wines. At the same time, the Tourange-based wine dealer Pierre Chainier has agreed to merge with Caves de la Loire, a wine co-operative located in Brissac. The merger's first phase, which is due to be completed by the end of the year, consists of the creation of Loire Proprietes, a 50/50 sales and marketing joint-venture with an expected turnover of €35m.

It is clearly too much to expect a fragmented market like France to consolidate at the same pace as Australia, where four or five players dominate as much as 80% of exports. However, these sorts of deals are not isolated incidents and should be taken as a genuine sign that there are those in the French industry prepared to take radical steps to modernise in order to survive.


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