Saturday, 15 December 2018

15.12.18 The Consejo Wants to Speed Up the Changes to the Regulations

The process of adapting the Sherry and Manzanilla regulations to changing times is well under way, but still to be concluded. While Fedejerez, in their annual summing-up of the year on Thursday, asked the membership for patience to see the results of what is happening in the world of Sherry, the Consejo Regulador, in its own summing-up yesterday referred to it as one of the main projects in the sector.

There has not been enough time in 2018 to reach agreement on outstanding and important matters such as merging the production and crianza zones, the suppression of Fino from Sanlúcar and the incorporation into the DO of the new white unfortified wines and old native grape varieties among other matters which the commission appointed by the Consejo is looking into. However much groundwork has been done which provides a sort of road map for the direction Sherry will be going in for the coming decades and especially now since everyone seems to have taken on board that the times of BOB and volume at ridiculously low prices have gone.

The Consejo firmly believes that the changes to the regulations offer “a unique opportunity which cannot be missed to establish clear rules and focus on an image of quality“ says Consejo director César Saldaña, who is confident that these matters will reach a conclusión this coming year. He admits that the revision of the regulations has “not advanced as much as had been hoped” – Fedejerez had hoped it would be concluded before the end of 2018 – but he says that these are complicated matters which need much negotiation. As the work of the commission has now been done, the ball is in the court of the various trade organisations whom the Consejo is urging not to delay decisions.

The modification of the regulations indirectly affects the Bag in Box which has been in the limelight recently with the High Court ruling which backed the Consejo and Fedejerez by banning the sale of Sherry and Manzanilla in this container. If the merging of the crianza and production zones goes ahead, and assuming the appeal lodged by the Bodegas Artesanas of Sanlúcar and the Junta´s Agriculture Department is rejected, the ban on the use of the BIB would extend to the production zone which can currently use it. This is one of the incongruencies which it is hoped will be eliminated by the changes to the regulations.

Looking towards 2019, definitive sales figures for 2018 are not yet available, but will certainly reflect the continuing downward trend in export sales volumes particularly in the traditional markets like the UK, Holland and Germany, thanks to the gradual disappearance of BIB. While the Spanish market is holding its nerve, the Consejo is going to incorporate into the figures of wine leaving the bodegas new data on average price which will give a more approximate idea of the real picture in the sector in which there is a sense that falling volumes are being compensated for by increased value.

In his summing-up of 2018, Saldaña points out that the sector has reached concensus about the new promotional campaign for Sherry centred on Madrid and London in which the message will now be aimed directly at the consumer. This is not to say of course that those who promote the wine like sommeliers, chefs and wine experts, who have done much to recuperate the prestige image of Sherry, will be left aside. But the focus for now will be on the consumer with whom perseverance is needed to get the message through and so the campaign will continue for two more years, and in January the impact of the first two waves of the campaign will be revised.

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