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Courvoisier can meet demand despite bad weather

The Cognac region has been hit by adverse weather conditions over the past few years, but Courvoisier master blender Patrice Pinet has assured the house has enough stock to meet demand.

The Courvoisier Cognac house in France

Cognac was hit by severe storms in 2016, which damaged up to 6,000 hectares of vineyards in the French region. A combination of hailstones, wind and rain caused a loss of harvest, meaning lower yields for several producers.

Further storms battered the region in May 2018, affecting more than 10,000ha of Cognac in one way or another. Meanwhile, a spate of frost affected the region last year.

Courvoisier was affected by poor weather conditions in 2017 and 2019, which resulted in a 25% reduced harvest.

But if storms continue to impact the Cognac region, will the brand be able to keep up with growing consumer demand for Cognac?

Speaking to The Spirits Business last week, Pinet said: “We have launched a study to look at this and that’s why we are also planting new vineyards to take into account the fact that we need enough grapes to face the demand, and face some climatic issues.

“So we have considered this fact in order to see how many hectares of vineyards we need to meet demand.”

Courvoisier has partnered the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) to research new varieties of grapes, some of which can be harvested earlier in September, rather than the traditional harvest date of October.

Pinet added that having a greater understanding of the types of grapes that can be used to make Cognac would also “decrease the risk of frost a little”.

The second area of research is looking into how resistant certain grape varieties are to disease.

Cognac growth

In volume terms, Cognac is expected to grow by 12% over the next three years to 2023, according to figures supplied by Courvoisier from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. By value, Cognac sales are forecast to increase by 14% during the same period.

However, when asked about key trends driving Cognac sales in the next year, Pinet noted that 2020 growth could be affected by geopolitical turbulence.

“I don’t know what will be the risk we have to face with America; I don’t know what will be the final agreement between the UK and Europe in terms of trade,” Pinet added. “We could have some impact due to global political issues.

“But if we don’t have political issues, the trend of premiumisation and cocktails will continue as well. People, I think, are drinking less; they like to drink very good spirits. So Cognac is one of the spirits they can enjoy.”

Regarding the future growth of Courvoisier, Pinet said that while growth “may be at a lower pace than we have [grown] in the past”, the house is sure it can “continue to growth the business by 3% a year”.

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