WorldWine Blog

2012-09-18

Decanter's numbers - An Austrian drama?

The fact that Decanter, the British wine magazin, seems to be in trouble, whenever it comes to writing about numbers and statistics, is nothing really surprising as we have demonstated in the past, and there wouldn't even have been any reason for again talking about this phenomenon if it had not concerned a subject which we have repeatedly dealt with in recent months: the Austrian wine statistics. "Austria faces huge quantity drop after devastating conditions earlier this year" was the headline of an article, which we yesterday found on decanter.com, and in which "the world's best wine magazine", as they use to call themselves in a long lasting attack of typical British understatement, refers to the current harvest estimations of Austria's wine and statistics bodies.

The article speaks of a dramatic situation and of losses of about a third compared with the quantities of the 2011 harvest, the Weinviertel region even beeing hit by losses of more than 43 %. What they forget to say is that the last vintage had brought about exceptionally high yields - the second highest of the last 15 years, and is thus anything but a valid reference in a serious statistical evaluation. As a matter of fact, the expected 2.2 m hectolitres of wine which Austria expects this fall, appear much less dramatic in a medium or long-term perspective, but that would certainly have sounded too little alarmist for our "best" Decanter editors.

The ongoing harvest in Austria is expected to yield about 10 % less than the average of the actual quinquennium (2008 to 2012), but the expected 2.2 m hl (about the level of 2005 and 2006) are far from being as dramatic as the 2010 yield (1.7 m hl). Even if you assume an overall loss of about a third whith respect to 2011 and a regional high of - 43 % in the Weinviertel region (by far the biggest in Austria), this means that other regions probably have produced even considerably more than the year before. Otherwise the statistical balance would not have tuned up. Obviously, this is a story Decanter does NOT tell us.

Considering that not only 2011 was the second biggest harvest in the last 15 years but that the recent 2008 vintage had already been their biggest, the medium and long term situation looks much less scaring than the Decanter piece would like to make us believe. The present quinquennium (2008 to 2012) fares only 2.5 % below the preceding five years and just 6.7 % under the 1998-to-2002 period. And this notwithstanding the fact that 2010 had yielded the lowest harvest since many, many years.

Useless to say that Britsh journalism USED TO BE a benchmark for journalists all over the world.

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More about Decanter and Austria (in German):
Decanter kann immer noch nicht rechnen
Der Flaschendruck von Champagner ... laut Decanter
Österreich: Noch immer kein Licht am Ende des Tunnels?
Österreich - Das Exportdrama geht weiter


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