Stakes are raised as discounting nears fever pitch

While Sainsbury’s 25% reduction on all wines  including champagne (when six or more bottles are purchased) ended last night, more great deals are emerging with Tesco continuing to offer some of its best on its by-the-case website. Some offers come and go very quickly. Morrisons major cut in the price of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Brut NV, down £25 from £57.99 to £32.99 a bottle only lasted a day on their website, but should still be available in some stores, though it is not yet clear how much stock they have. The £10 a bottle deals continue though these are not on very exciting wines. The only thing we haven’t really seen is major discounts on the biggest brands of non-vintage Brut, though Moet is down at £25 a single bottle in ASDA and Lanson Rosé is down to £18.99, again at Morrisons (website and in store). See the latest champagne offers page for more deals.


The press centre at Roger Brun in Aÿ

On Wednesday morning (9 October) I went to see Philippe Brun who runs the press at his family’s business (Roger Brun) in Aÿ. As well as processing his own grapes for a fine range of Pinot Noir based champagnes under the Roger Brun label, Philippe runs a service for several top négociants, some of whom he also supplies with grapes, plus numerous small growers. It is his comments you can hear on the video. Also note that for his own grapes he uses not the large 40 kilos baskets but smaller 20 kilo versions because he wants to limit the likelihood of grapes being damaged and the risk they may start to ferment before they are tipped into the press. He also has a pneumatic press on the same site, but we look at how the 4,000 kilo Coquard press is run and also show the second pressing in the film.

Second Video:

Pressing at Perrier Jouët in Cramant

You see and hear lots of interesting things when you visit Champagne while the harvest is actually going on. On my three day trip there last week I saw several different press houses in action and have made a couple of short videos featuring the Coquard basket press at two different wineries. The first involves the Perrier-Jouët operation in the village of Cramant in the Côte des Blancs. It’s is remarkable just how quickly the presses are loaded by hand. The baskets of Chardonnay you see being emptied at speed each weigh around 40 kilos and therefore you need 100 to get the 4,000 kilos that makes up one pressing (known as a Marc).

First Video:

Thanks to Finn Fallowfield for editing.

Champenois active in the UK market

It’s all been very busy since early September with various Champenois visiting London, the 2013 harvest kicking off on 24 September, plus a three day trip to Champagne from 7 October just as some of the cooler Montagne de Reims grands crus  Pinot Noir vineyards started picking, notably Verzenay. The rest of  October looks very busy too with several supermarkets showing the fizz they have lined up for Christmas at their tastings, plus more London events  involving Cattier, Laurent-Perrier , Piper-Heidsieck and Lanson, to name but four.

Having re-organised things here, I am trying to report on these as they happen while filling in some detail about the almost complete harvest and catching up on some of the excellent champagne events of the past few weeks, like Bruno Paillard’s tasting of different cuvées of his ‘multi-vintage’ Brut Première Cuvée, disgorged seven, 45, 97 and 140 months ago. Future blogging should be more regular and up to date.

Sunshine and deals boost fizz consumption

Good summer weather continues to lift champagne consumption and retailers like Tesco are doing their best to boost consumers’ spending by introducing the widely favoured blanket 25% discount of all its wine and champagnes if you buy six bottles or more. And because it is doing this while other discounts are running some real bargains have emerged. You can pick up bottles of Veuve Clicquot’s top quality 2004 vintage for below £28 under the deal, while Lanson Black Label drops to just £16.49.

We seem to be seeing a switch in the recent deals back to big brand names, as was the case at Sainsbury’s last month. However one of the bargains while the 25% discount lasts (until 10 September) is Own Label in the shape of Tesco Finest Premier Cru a wine I’d be very happy to consume at just £12.74 a bottle.  For details of these and other price reductions see the Latest Offers page.