A Champagne riddle


What has one end go down a little while another end pops up? It’s not a seesaw; judging by recent data, the answer to this riddle is Champagne.

Champagne sales fell 4.4% last year to 308 million bottles but were flat by value according to data released by the CIVC last week. France and the rest of the EU popped fewer bottles of bubbly by 5.6% and 7.1% respectively; together, they comprise 80% of Champagne sales. The official press release highlighted strong sales in Japan and Australia as well as growth in emerging markets.

Sales in the US market were not released but Shanken Daily News reported, presumably from their own data, that sales of Champagne fell 16% by volume and 25% by value in the first half of 2012.

I spoke with a representative at a leading importer of grower champagne who said their sales surged 20% last year. In fact, their Champagne portfolio is what is drawing new accounts for them as buyers are attracted to champagne from small producers who have a link to the land. Wine shop managers have also told me about strong interest in grower champagne at the retail level. Grower champagnes clearly represent only a niche in the bubbly market but it is a growing niche. Will the big houses take heed and start focusing more on site-specific wines?

Maybe the sluggish economy is causing brand-oriented champagne consumers to switch some purchases to Prosecco. Or they are following instructions from hip-hop artists and dabbling with Moscato.

Photo Credit: Vainsang cc

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7 Responses to “A Champagne riddle”

  1. I have had champagne exactly once in the last year (NV Pol Roger). Cremants from Alsace, Loire, Burgundy, and so on… Much more often.

    I would be interested in the data regarding other sources of bubbles. My guess is that I’m not alone.

  2. I love Champagne but I can’t afford to buy it so I look for Champagne that goes on sale or I buy the best California sparkling wines. If the French want to survive they must price their wines with more realistic prices.

  3. I, myself, am very fond of prosecco.

  4. […] United States last year. Since those reports likely came from sales data provided by Big Houses, Tyler Colman wonders if Grower Champagne helps explain the […]

  5. Terry Thiese must be a happy fellow these days.

  6. I think bubbles in general are on the rise. I also believe Champagne is in a transitional phase; from a special occasion/luxury item, to a more everyday (as if) wine. Weather one looks at Champagne or bubbles in general, I think we will see the market and appreciation grow, albeit in a new mindset from the past. Luxury Champagne will be for the special occasions, but grower Champs, Cremants, etc. will expand as there is a taste for drinking bubbles before, during, and after meals. Just a prediction…

  7. […] The next interesting article again comes from Dr. Vino and it is dedicated to all the number addicts and Champagne aficionados ( I know I have a few among my readers, but I will not name names).  Want to know how many bottles were made, consumed and broken (okay, I’m pulling your leg here) – take a look at this post. […]


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