But it seems that my customers and myself are not the only ones enjoying Champagne at the moment, looking at both recent wine drinking and wine investment trends. Champagne became the third most traded region on Liv-Ex in September, overtaking Burgundy and its average monthly share has more than doubled from 2014, with Cristal and Taittinger being the most widely traded.
This impressive rise can be partly explained by increasing volumes of Vintage Champagne after several consecutive vintages have been declared by leading houses. And with a slight upturn in the world economy, consumers are celebrating more and spending more on their products, plus there has been a rise in business and luxury tourism in the likes of Hong Kong and the UAE.
Bollinger, Cristal and Moet et Chandon have also seen a surge in retail sales at Cadman and globally. Bollinger in particular. For the UK consumer I can put this down to GDP. It grew by 2.5% in 2014, coinciding with a 6% rise in Champagne imports after three consecutive years of decline.
Also, after chatting with my colleagues at Golden West Wines, I notice that following suffering a setback in sales in 2012, the USA consumers’ thirst for Champagne has returned once more, with 2014 sales figures growing by almost 5%. According to Databank, Champagne producers shipped 1.3 million cases last year, a leap of 4.5%, and that the US market had grown by 140,000 cases since 2009, with the value of those sales rising by 10% to $283 a case between 2010 and 2014. Veuve Clicquot is on fire, apparently, and together with Moet & Chandon make up for around 60% of US Champagne sales. That’s huge.
Unlike the UK, I put the increase in US retail sales largely down to better educated palates, tastes and a broader interest in different Champagne (and sparkling) styles, such as Rôse which is having a ball, and at all price points. It’s great to see it being seen as far more than just a celebration wine for special occasions. And they’re learning more about matching it with food. Champagne is an often overlooked ‘food wine’ in my book, but it goes beautifully with a great range of dishes from oysters to poached egg with salmon, chilled soups, sushi and sashimi and good old-fashioned British fish, chips and mushy peas – a classic dish when done in a refined way, with wafer thin batter and homemade chips.
The Bond Effect…
And now there’s a new Bond film out, and we all know how advertising and product placement in the movies works. So, demand for a Spectre Limited Edition (it comes in an embossed Bollinger box, 007 branding) from the 2009 vintage is going to be huge. Cadman Fine Wines has an allocation I’m pleased to say. I look forward to seeing what extra boost the ‘Bond effect’ will have on the wine market – both retail and investment wise.
2015 looking ominously good…
The omens for Champagne lovers and growers alike is that the 2015 Champagne vintage is looking ominously good, with generally slightly lower than average yields of really ripe grapes (outstanding in quality), potentially high alcohol levels and low pHs, which all bear similarities with the great 2009 vintage.
The only real worry amongst some industry professionals is the supply, as there are clearly no current worries on the demand. I just hope that as palates and tastes continue their education that consumers will look further than the trophy label wines and discover the great wines available from the less familiar brands, like Bonville.