Champagne and its discounts: suicide? - Cinelli Colombini

English version Vines and wines

Champagne and its discounts: suicide?

Maybe it is the “Prosecco effect” but there are definitely many Champagne producers offering their bottles at really incredible prices. Will the myth of the most famous bubbles in the world resist?

French bubbles

Champagne

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Toscana, Brunello, Casato Prime Donne

If we consider that the grapes for  Champagne cost 6€ per Kg and the production costs about  9€ to which taxes must be added, it is difficult to understand how a bottle of French bubbly can be sold at 10 Euro. But it happens. We must consider that these wines cannot be sold not bottled, it must finish its time on yeasts in the production area until the  degorgement and the capping with the traditional mushroom shaped cork. So the large distribution chains buy in bottle from the  wineries. However there is a short cut:  the sales “sur latte” , when the wine is still on the yeasts and before the recapping. A system that is useful to give liquidity to wineries and get the less prestigious cuvées out even if with a great sacrifice in price. Obviously, these quantities of wine, that generally bear a label of a chain of supermarkets, are qualitatively worse, and because of their low prices, damage the  Champagne reputation.

Spumante or Champagne

Spumante or Champagne

For this  reason Toubart of the Syndicate des Vignerons, said to Wine Searcher “Champagne’s strength is that it is a beverage that is consumed on special occasions; because of its relatively high price, it has always been a rarity, to be treasured. Price dumping endangers this, it can turn Champagne in to a commodity>>

.How can we say he is wrong, in fact the price too is a message. However the idea of getting rid of shop owners and distributors fearing to end up like Cognac where 4 buyers control the entire brand, does not seem applicable. Seemingly the market punishes  and rewards without extra help. The direct testimony of the owners of the  Champagne maisons seem to demonstrate that those who invest in quality increase turnover and business  volumes, while those looking out only for savings end up having to sell their wines to “sur latte” distributors.

In reality the  Champagne producers are a little like the cat who moans “with the mouse in his mouth” because things are not going badly for them. The 2015  Champagne shipping reached a record 312.5 million bottles and in  2016 there has been only a slight decrease (306 million) but the business remained practically unchanged at 4.71 billion Euros with a slight increase in the average price per bottle, which stands at around 15 Euro. Champagne is a locomotive for French wines, Italy alone buys 6,6 million bottles per year

We Italians with our Prosecco have enormously lower prices per bottle, but something is changing …. The qualitative overtaking, on a worldwide scale, of Italian Spumante over the French took place for the first time in 2014 when our national bubbles reached 320 million bottles exported. Then we received another bit of good news: the  Nielsen report on the US market, revealed that the Italian bubbles, in 2014 overtook in the off-premise consumption Champagne also in value: 246 million dollars against 231 million.

Maybe it is for this reason that the Champagne producers do not feel very sure and wish to create a big divide between them and the rest of the world. … It is to be seen if they succeed!

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