Focus - The Prosecco shortage that isn't

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Last week, news spread of an impending Prosecco shortage. But beyond the sensationalist headlines, how likely is it that fans of the fast-growing sparkling wine will find themselves fighting over the last few bottles this Summer?

Prosecco sales in the UK are up

Prosecco sales in the UK are up

According to Prosecco producers and growers just-drinks has spoken to, not very.

"A storm in a wine cup," said Daniel Spinath, director at UK Prosecco importer Frizzenti, who had his suspicions over last week's story based on comments from one executive at Prosecco producer Bisol. "I'm always sceptical when these things come from just one source, particularly when it's a branded source," Spinath said.

And, while Spinath did concede that last year's Prosecco harvest was down on the previous year, he said producers will have hedged supplies from previous years to combat any shortfall, especially considering the recent rapid growth in the category.

"My take on all of this is, I don't believe there will be any real shortages," he said.

Other companies were in agreement.

"In the course of this year, the Prosecco shortage due to the bad harvest will not have any effect on Mionetto," said German drinks group Henkell & Co, which owns the Mionetto Prosecco brand.

Meanwhile, the director of the Consorzio Tutela Conegliano Valdobbiadene, a consortium of Prosecco growers, denied that the group's members had endured a bad harvest. Last year's crop, which was picked in September and October, was "standard in terms of quantity, and in line with the previous one" despite poor weather, Giancarlo Vettorello said.

He added: "The irregular climate of 2014, with heavy rain and cold temperatures, has been managed well by the wine makers, thanks to the knowledge of our hills and the work of the technical office of the consortium."

So, why all the fuss last week? Frizzenti's Spinath says there may have been other motives at work.

The UK has seen Prosecco sales soar over the past few years - a Lanson report released this month showed that the segment helped drive a 61% increase in value for the sparkling wine category in the country last year - but consumers can still pick up a bottle for about GBP6 (US$9) in the off-trade.

Spinath believes some Prosecco producers may wish consumers to believe supply is running short so they can give them "a nudge to expect price increases".

"It could have been a bit of a marketing ploy," he said.

All eyes will now be on this year's harvest. However, both Henkell and Spinath told just-drinks it is still too early to say how it is shaping up.

For the time being, Prosecco drinkers can rest easy - there's more than enough for now.

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