Worldwide Champagne shipments dropped by 1.8% in 2018, falling some 5,523,085 bottles from 307,379,350 to 301,856,265. This is the lowest level since 2009, when the market suffered a significant fall in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis dropping to 293.3m bottles, and close to the level in 2004 of 301.4m bottles, though at that point shipments were still growing steadily year on year.
Although it was entirely expected, as this have been a clear trend for nearly a decade now, 2018 was also the first year in recent times when exports have exceeded French domestic consumption. French domestic shipments have dropped every year since the recent high point of 185.13m bottles was reached in 2010, while exports have been growing fairly consistently since the beginning of the Millennium.
Exports last exceeded French domestic shipments in 1946, though by less than 1m bottles – 12,793,929 bottles against 12,057,163 – as countries starved of Champagne during World War Two sort to catch up. Exports also exceeded French consumption in 1927-1929 and between 1919 and 1921, while before 1914 sales of Champagne outside France were regularly higher.
The other noticeable trend in consumption has been the gradual decline of sales within the rest of Europe where shipments dropped, though by less than one percentage point, to 76.148m bottles in 2018, while exports to markets outside Europe continue to rise and were up 2.1% to 78.68m bottles in 2018.
Champagne producers have just agreed to set the maximum yield level for the 2018 harvest at 10,800kilos per hectare. This is the same level as was agreed for the previous harvest in 2017, though that included 500kgs/ha to be released from the reserve, so it was effectively 10,300kgs/ha. After severe April frosts in 2017 and then major problems with rot just before picking began in late August the average yield for the 2017 reached 10,057 kg/ha, according to the provisional figure released by the Champagne Comité.
One of the main reasons that champagne houses covet working with the leading airlines is they like the exposure for their brands. They want to be seen as the preferred pour in the first or business class cabin. Partly because this is an affluent audience that’s difficult to reach, they will even agree relatively unprofitable deals to get the listing, though of course they are at pains to deny this.
Met up with the team at Drinks International at the start of this week to celebrate the publication of the fourth ‘Most Admired Champagne Brands’ supplements I have overseen and written. You can read the magazine, our most successful and largest to date, via this link: https://goo.gl/U6jAnE .
We enjoyed a glass of Piper Heidsieck Rare 2002 over lunch, which 28-50 in Fetter Lane (along with its two sister restaurants) is selling for just £15 a glass (£89 a bottle). This must be just about the bargain fizz Continue reading “MACB 2018 now published”
Champagne shipments has risen very slightly compared to the 306.096 bottles reached in 2016, rising by 0.52% or around 1.6m bottles to 307.7m bottles in 2017. At the end of November 2017 shipments were in line to rise to around 311m bottles and even the Union des Maisons de Champagne (UMC) was predicting 310m bottles. But sales in December, usually the busiest month in the year, fell back generally by around 10%, on the same month in 2016.
The Champagne harvest has begun in earnest with the official dates for many of the major Côte des Blancs crus opening last Friday (1 September) and in the Montagne de Reims, crus like Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Bouzy and Verzenay starting today for black grapes. The first official day for picking was on 26 August for the cru of Montgueux, the isolated vineyard set on a hill due west of Troyes in the Côte des Bar that produces some of Champagne’s richest Chardonnay. As is fairly normal, Continue reading “2017 Champagne harvest gets into full flow”
It’s very hard for a champagne brand to get rid of a negative image. Years of ownership by the Rémy-Cointreau drinks group (they also used to have Krug in their grasp), which better understands the spirits market, did a good deal of harm to Piper-Heidsieck’s reputation, something which in Champagne essentially rests on the quality of your mainstream non-vintage cuvée, likely to account for more than 80% of your sales.