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Allegrini 2018
WINE TERRITORIES

Valpolicella is a healthy market with solid companies, thanks to its wines, Amarone in the lead

The Nomisma and Banco BPM report show the health of the denomination in numbers at "Amarone Opera Prima", organized by Consortium of Valpolicella

The merit goes to Valpolicella’s appellation wines Amarone, Ripasso and Valpolicella, which enjoy excellent health, that the market is growing, notwithstanding all the challenges in this period, and also solid companies that have an above average economic base. The Nomisma Wine Monitor has confirmed the state of health from numbers registered last year - 73.6 million bottles for 500 million euros in value, of which almost half related to sales of Amarone - and the analysis of the Studies and Research Department of Banco BPM for the Consortium for the Protection of Valpolicella wines, in Verona at the “Amarone Opera Prima” (a special event that linked, for the first time, wine, and the beauty of Verona and its symbol, the Arena, temple of the opera world).
The comparison that Banco BPM made, between the performance of the Venetian denomination and the National scenario of the sector, revealed that the Valpolicella wine companies are among the best performing in terms of liquidity, lower indebtedness and better debt sustainability, also in 2020, the year of Covid. The main red wine production area of the Veneto Region won the comparison with the Italian average of the premium range, which is the most consistent in the area considered in terms of production structure, thanks also to Amarone, the leading wine that drives the entire denomination towards the luxury segment. The net profit of the Valpolicella companies during the “annus horribilis” 2020, registered a growth of at +6.4%, against the average +0.4% in the premium segment and -2.6% in the classic segment (+12.4% luxury), and +14.4% GOM (gross operating margin) compared to +12.5% premium, and a much higher net worth (54.7% vs 43%).
“The study”, said Christian Marchesini, president of the Consortium of Valpolicella, “demonstrates it is essential for a denomination like ours to maintain high quality standards, an adequate positioning of the average price, and brand awareness, which is the result of the Consortium's actions to maintain the offer, allowing for greater flexibility. By blocking plantings we have been able to control production increase. Since 2021, after the last plants of those who still had rights in their portfolio were planted in 2019, the vineyard area has reached its maximum (8.573 hectares). However, despite this, production has proportionally decreased. Yields are fixed at each harvest and the percentage of grapes that can be used for drying to produce Amarone and Recioto are estimated. Moreover, in the unlucky event of hailstorms, we reduce yields and sorting in the affected areas. And, SIQURIA (Italian Society for the Quality and Traceability of Food, which among others, controls and certifies the Valpolicella denominations), controls the yields, which we, the only Consortium in Italy, have increased from the expected 15% by law to 25%, to control the entire surface of the “Valpolicella vineyard” over a 4-year period. Furthermore, we have increased control of this 10% more, based on a risk analysis, on vineyards located below 150 meters and over 400 meters above sea level.
We have also added the certification of every single box of grapes set aside, without which we cannot proceed with pressing, to the quality guarantee for consumers and for the producers. It was actually a significant effort, because it was concentrated in a month and a half, on 360 drying rooms”.
The current scenario that Banco BPM analyzed, is characterized by high uncertainty for the sector at the International level. First of all, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which is the contributing cause of many factors, such as inflation and tightening of the European Union monetary policy, high prices and shortage of supplies. If we then add the regulatory fluidity given by anti-alcohol campaigns and the green transition, a very challenging picture appears, even though it is supported by the forecast of the still growing International demand for Italian wine over the last decade, which has grown more than its European competitors. Therefore, this combination induced CERVED (the largest Information Provider in Italy and one of the main rating agencies in Europe, ed.) to revise downwards the latest estimates of the sector for 2022, and that is, sales abroad in any case, slight growth but the GOM less than half (from 10% to 4.7%).
In this not very rosy context, the positive results of Valpolicella wines - an unprecedented jump in sales in 2021 and an increase in value trending to 16%, thanks to growth of exports (8-9% and the domestic market (31%), and a rising medium - have assumed even further value. According to the Nomisma Wine Monitor survey, on a sample of over 40% of the market, the best performance is accredited to Amarone, the star of an authentic sales boom (+ 24%), exports to + 16% and value + 39% on the domestic market. The “king” of Valpolicella in the last two years has taken the road abroad in 65% of cases, and the top markets have been Canada, the United States and Switzerland, closely followed by the United Kingdom and Germany.
“In light of this data”, president Marchesini concluded, “we can face the future confidently. And, as far as sustainability is concerned, we shall continue along the path we started 10 years ago with the RRR (Reduce, Save, Respect) project, and that today has merged into the National Quality System of Integrated Production (SQNPI)”.
The turnover of Valpolicella wines hovers between 500 and 600 million euros per year. The prestigious Amarone - which in bulk, in the 2018 vintage, reached prices higher than 1.000 euros per hectoliter - produced 19 million bottles (+ 22.7% in 2021 compared to 2020), Ripasso, 35 million(+ 15%) and Valpolicella, 20 million (+ 9.4%) covering 8.600 hectares of vineyards. Their land values and assets are between 300.000 and 500.000 euros per hectare. Forty producers presented the 2017 vintage at "Amarone Opera Prima" to 100 journalists (of which 80 were from abroad), together with a vintage of their choice. The tasting, facilitated by air conditioning and an adequate temperature for serving wines, followed a media program aimed at "bringing out the versatility of Amarone and freeing it from a preconception that does not take into account its stylistic and multifaceted evolution”, Marchesini specified.
The frosts that in 2017 heavily affected many Italian wine-growing areas, fell only in a small area in Valpolicella where the upper part of the Pergolas was “spared”, so the frosts affected just the first 2 meters above ground. Instead, the 2017 harvest in Valpolicella was characterized by scarce rainfall in the summer - then concentrated in September, after the harvest - and high average monthly temperatures, reaching temperatures that place the vintage among the hottest, only after 2003, 2011, 2015 and 2009. The phenological phases came early as had been shown in flowering, and was maintained until the harvest began on September 4th, 10 days earlier than usual. The early harvest also affected setting aside the grapes. “The dry climatic trend contained adversities and facilitated defense”, Giambattista Tornielli (University of Verona), explained, “and the grapes were very healthy at the harvest. The sugar concentration was particularly high and, on the other hand, the malic acidity was below average. The overall quality of the grapes was good even though drying was a little early”.

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