Blog: Champagne in (new) crisis, again
Chris Mercer | 31 January 2011
There are a significant number of French winemakers who are malcontent unless enveloped by either the prospect of crisis or its aftermath. It's a dream state of mind for our 24-hour news culture.
A story in the UK's Telegraph newspaper caught my eye today by declaring that the Champagne cellars will run dry by April. It even drafts in Paul Vranken, the oft-outspoken head of Vranken-Pommery Monopole, who says that the industry will be "very, very stretched".
Such is the presumed blind panic in the region that no one was answering the phones at Champagne Council (CIVC) headquarters today.
What a rollercoaster of emotions it must be to work in Champagne. Back in 2007, the world was awash with stories that Champagne stocks were fizzling out. Industry leaders were letting it be known that Champagne could not afford to increase sales by more than 2% in volume annually, otherwise there would be shortages. Prosecco producers could be heard singing from across the Alps.
Then came the global financial hullabaloo, or the GFH as I call it. Champagne sales plummeted and retailers sold off excess stocks at prices normally reserved for half-decent sparkling wine - but not, of course, Champagne. The CIVC capped production in order to limit future supplies - most Champagne on the market uses grapes that were harvested at least two years ago.
In 2010, however, consumer demand rebounded strongly, even if prices have been a little slow to catch up. Now, alas, we are told that Champagne stocks are, again, drying up.
This is just a hunch, but could it be that Vranken-Pommery is merely applying pressure on the CIVC to relax the production cap for this year's grape harvest? There's an idea.
Whisk(e)y companies spend a lot of money and effort ageing their products for that premium taste....
PepsiCo created a stir last week with the news it is testing a product called Caleb's Kola, with some in the media claiming it was the beginning of a new “craft soda” category....
SABMiller's bid to widen the appeal of beer is very much in evidence at its latest 'House of Peroni' - with beer cocktails and a bigger bottle for the Italian lager brand on offer. ...
Here's a round-up of the big stories on just-drinks last week, featuring PepsiCo, SABMiller, the Scotch whisky category and the US wine market....
- Comment - How Hand-Made is Tito's Handmade Vodka?
- Analysis - Remy's Cognac "dead-cat bounce"
- Heineken to stay "active player" in beer M&A - CFO
- Focus - Pernod Ricard's Q1 sales by brand
- Time for Heineken to make a European break
- Moët Hennessy unveils first Travel Retail outlet
- Whisky downturn slows Diageo's Scotch spend
- Beam Suntory, Edrington part ways in Travel Retail
- United Spirits sees Q1 net loss
- Pernod Ricard sees sales lift in Q1