Champagne popping out of Covid-19 – Liz Palmer’s Presentation – Sparkling WINE Week July 1 2020

Sparkling WINE Week – July 1st 2020
Champagne Post COVID –
Session 3 – 15.30 – 16.00 Seminar: Champagne popping out of COVID-19  – Sparkling WINE Week Liz Palmer, Key Note Speaker

 Champagne Popping Out Of Covid-19

 Remember …only sparkling wine, from the Champagne region of France, can be called “Champagne”.

Brief Overview Of The Region

Location: the Champagne Region is located in the Northeastern part of France, about 1h30 from Paris by car and 45 minutes by TGV (high-speed train).

 Districts: The viticultural boundaries of Champagne are legally defined and split into 5 wine-producing districts: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area. Reims is famous for its cathedral, Notre-Dame de Reims – this was previously used for the coronation of the French Kings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Grapes: Three grapes are mainly used – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier.

Other approved varietals include: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier

  • These together are less than 0.3% of plantings.

31% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay which performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk-slopes south of Epernay. Chardonnay produces lighter, fresher wines and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape used in Blancs de Blancs.  Note:  No other authorized white grapes, i.e., Pinot Blanc, Arbane, Petit-Meslier and Pinot Gris can be used in making a Blancs de Blancs.

Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 38% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends – it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and in the Aube district.

The final varietal is Meunier which accounts for nearly 31% of the plantings. This varietal is durable and resistant to spring frosts – found in Marne Valley. It produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks aging potential, but this does not deter Krug from including 15% of it in their final blends.

Champagne is a collective of over 16,000 growers and 340 houses. The region as a whole has put a proactive focus on climate change and sustainability since 2003 it was the first in the world to produce a carbon footprint assessment and identify the main sources of emissions in their systems. Based on learnings from the assessment, the region rolled out a plan to cut emissions by 75% by 2050. A nearer-term goal ensures that 100% of the area holds an environmental certification by 2030. (As of 2019, about a fifth of the region held a certification.)

Champagne Shipments

The latest shipment figures are attached [as at April 20, 2020] « too early to tell the effects » since 50% of the shipments occur between September – December 2019, the next figures are expected to be announced around the 10th/15th of July – so watch for this – usually published in French.

Going back to 2019 – Champagne reached its highest ever turnover, breaking the €5 billion mark for the first time in its history, while the start of this year was also very strong in terms of sales of the sparkling wine. The beginning of 2020 was good in terms of consumption – and now it’s a different story.

2020 Pandemic 

With gatherings over the past three months across large parts of Europe, and around the world, canceled or postponed, and bars and restaurants closed, it should come as little surprise that Champagne sales would be seriously affected, especially as the nation’s worst-hit by the pandemic are some of Champagne’s biggest markets: France, Italy, Spain, and the USA.

As a whole, the Champagne region immediately reacted when the W.H.O. declared a global health emergency with the coronavirus pandemic [January 30, 2020].  France announced the first coronavirus death in Europe [February 14, 2020].

What Initial Steps Were Taken? 

  • Adapted general safety measures in the vineyards and cellars, and made the continuation of the work possible.
  • established guidelines for « mating confusion » which usually is done by hand in large groups (the whole village at once).

What is mating confusion:  This technique is based on a natural insect (scent or aroma) pheromone which confuses a male butterfly into not mating with the female. If the insects don’t breed, they aren’t a threat to the vines – this is called sexual confusion.

Mating confusion was postponed a few times and eventually suspended and did not take place in many villages. Typically, the growers would rather take the risk to lose a percentage of their grapes to the insects, than giving up on a « biocontrol  – which is a component of an integrated pest management strategy. It is defined as the reduction of pest populations by natural enemies.

[Note: Champagne is the leading European country, in terms of surface, when it comes to mating confusion and half of their surfaces are under mating confusion].

  • During this time, the Comite Champagne reminded the growers and houses, of the strategic orientations of the region: growth in value rather than in volume.
  • During the crisis, the Champagne Region interacted with the French government, to ensure that economic measures were in place to support the domaines and wineries.
  • The Presidents and executive board members of the houses have clearly communicated that Champagne expects a fall of shipments by 100 million bottles (i.e. minus 30% to minus 35%) over the year, resulting in a loss of turnover of 1,7 Bn€.
  • During the months of April and May, Champagne has managed to establish an “adaptation” of the collective system which is aimed at ensuring the survival of the houses and companies, such as:The 2020 harvest will be bottled in two parts:

the first part, as usual, January 1st 2021;

with the second part to be bottled as of January 1st 2022

(ensuring that there is a reasonable level of production in 2020 (in order to sustain domaines and all players, who depend on selling grapes). This avoids providing the markets with too much wine.).

[Note: Currently there are almost 4 years of shipments in stock (or 1,43 Bn bottles)]

  • The French government was solicited to reinforce the “Loi EGalim” or “**EGalim Law”] in the French off-trade, because it has had, in the past, positive effects on the Champagne market overall by limiting extreme discounts.

**[in long form this represents – law for the balance of trade relations in the agricultural and food sector and healthy, sustainable, and accessible food for all].

  • The EGalim Law set recent promotions as follows: 1 bottle offered for 3 purchased, as opposed to « buy one get one free ».

[Note: This call to the government is a positive sign on Champagne being firm on its value growth strategy.] 

Increased Digital Activities

  • The growers, houses and the Comite Champagne have all changed the way they communicate including increasing their social media activities.
  • recently launched Champagne education platform [Mook] champagne-mooc.com.

Classic Version

Course in English with subtitled videos

Access to 4 educational modules

The Champagne making process

The Champagne terroir

History and Economy of Champagne

Diversity and Tasting

Free

A N D 

Premium Version

Course in English with subtitled videos

Access to the 4 educational modules of the classic version

Additionnal contents:

Extra videos

Test your knowledge

Get the official Statement of completion

49€ (taxes included)

Strategy – Post-COVID

  • The main driver to rebuild a « desire for Champagne » is to collectively build the visibility of Champagne as a region that has invested in an eco-friendly production management [this is a number one concern for consumers 25-35 years in many key markets] and Champagne as the drink for celebrations, and special moments, but also the drink to make moments special — Champagne as a treat during hard times, a break within the rush, a comforting drink, for some.
  • And as Louis Roederer’s cellar master Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon states “We make something which is not essential but, at the same time, it is essential for pleasure and bringing people together. We make a wine for celebration, so we decided that, in difficult times, it is important to do what we do and try and make an even better wine for the future.”
  • Some brands, including the Union of Growers have organized charities to support medical teams in the region.
  • The environmental effort of the region (previously mentioned), for the last 20 years and with objectives set for 2025, 2030, 2050, these strategic fundamentals are long-term.

Harvest 2020 

  • There was initially a challenge to get seasonal workers for the upcoming harvest above at least 50% of the 120,000 required. With most coming from Eastern Europe, it’s both a challenge to determine how and when they can travel to France, and then to implement social distancing which anticipated for the end of August. This is no longer an issue as the UE will be reopening and students will be available.  The challenge remains to implement social distancing.
  • This is a manual and collective task that can cause incredible logistic challenges (transportation and meals).

Champagne Tourism

  • When it comes to tourism the region has adapted the government guidelines to reopen and the sites have just started to open.

France is Europe’s most-visited country, making tourism a key pillar of the economy.

  • Experts say it’s too early to evaluate the full effect of the COVID-19 crisis, but the European Commission is already calling for a new “Marshall Plan,” using EU funds, to save the tourism industry.
  • Once the lockdowns are fully over, and plans for a vaccine are in place, we will all want to celebrate – with Champagne of course!

Sources:

Comite Champagne
Thibaut Le Mailloux
Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon

 

 

Liz Palmer

liz@liz-palmer

www.liz-palmer.com

Women in Wine Talks: Leadership in Challenging Times with Maggie Henriquez, President and CEO of Krug Champagne – June 23, 2020 1:00 pm EST

I’m extremely proud to host our upcoming “Women in Wine Talks” with Margareth Henríquez, President, and CEO of Krug Champagne on June 23.  Maggie is someone truly whom I respect and admire as a woman, mother, (now grandmother), and business leader whom I’ve met on many occasions in Paris and Reims.

Here are the details on her upcoming leadership talk:

Join us June 23rd 2020 1:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) for an exclusive in-depth conversation with Maggie Henriquez, President & CEO of Krug Champagne. Ms Henriques will share her personal strategies for success in challenging times!

Les Dames d’Escoffier Ontario (Canada) is proud to host “Women in Wine TalksTM” as an online platform to raise awareness of women in the wine industry to impact positive change. We shine the spotlight on global women business leaders, winemakers, authors and industry experts.

CONCEPT

Women in Wine TalksTM are inspiring conversations, virtual wine- tastings and panel discussions with wine industry experts. “Memorable and Elevated Virtual Experiences.”

Next up:

Women in Wine Talks with Margareth (Maggie) Henriquez Ph.D., President & CEO, Krug Maison de Champagne, and President, LVMH Estates and Wine Division

“The Turnaround CEO”

Maggie Henriquez needs little introduction. She is an extraordinary speaker and inspirational leader, is incredibly dynamic and a visionary. Maggie is the President and CEO of Krug Maison de Champagne and President of LVMH Estates & Wine Division.  She will not only capture your heart; she will fully engage your mind with her talk on Leadership in Challenging Times.

Registration details:

June 23, 2020 1:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

To register in advance for this Women in Wine Talk:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/leadership-in-challenging-times-with-maggie-henriquez-ceo-of-krug-champagne-tickets-109305076426

Drake Launches 2008 Vintage Champagne

Having unveiled his first Mod Sélection Champagne in January this year, Canadian rapper Drake is now ending the year by launching two 2008 vintage expressions.  Priced at US $480 and US $550 a bottle respectively is Mod Sélection Réserve Vintage 2008, and Mod Sélection Rosé Vintage 2008.

Mod Sélection Réserve is a blend of 10% Pinot Noir, 55% Meunier and 35% Chardonnay. According to the producer Maison Pierre Mignon, this wine has aromas of “rich, ripe fruit” with flavours of “orange peel, dried apricot, pineapple, brioche, nutmeg and clove” on the palate.

Mod Sélection Rosé Vintage 2008  is made using the saignée method and is a blend of 10% Pinot Noir, 50% Meunier and 40% Chardonnay. According to the producer it’s described as having a “deep-salmon hue” with “concentrated and complex fresh red fruit on the palate” with honey, ginger and sweet spice.

Commenting on the launch, founder and CEO of Mod Sélection Champagne, Brent Hocking, said: The attention to detail in every aspect of our production process is what sets this Champagne apart from all other 2008 vintages the industry has seen this year.

“We have purposely waited to release these special blends to ensure optimum quality and purity – and we believe they’re worth the wait.”

These releases mark the third and fourth product launches from the brand, following the launch of the Mod Réserve Champagne (US$300) and a Mod Rosé Champagne (US$400) earlier this year.

The new vintage Champagnes will be packaged in the brand’s brown metallic bottles and adorned with bronze detailing, made by craftsman from the Champagne region.

Champagne brand Mod Sélection operates in partnership with Champagne Pierre Mignon, a family-owned Champagne house based in Le Breuil in the Vallée de la Marne. The house has 16 hectares of vines, located in the Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, and Epernay.

Website: http://www.modselectionchampagne.com

Louis Roederer launches first biodynamic champagne

Louis Roederer has announced this week the release of its 2012 Cristal, the first to be made from 100% biodynamically farmed grapes. The house has been implementing biodynamics in its vineyards for the past 10 years and so far has converted 50% of their plots, while the remainder is 50% organic.

Louis Roederer has hailed the release as the “first-born from this new viticulture”. The 2012 vintage is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay with a dosage of 7.5g/l.

The 2012 vintage was described in a statement as “one of the most challenging and complicated years ever experienced in Champagne”, and while yields were low, warmer weather towards the end of the season led to “unusual levels of maturity” and with that, “full-bodied and structured wines”.

Website:  https://www.louis-roederer.com

 

Celebrating 40 Years of Bollinger and James Bond

Champagne Bollinger is celebrating its 40th-year partnership with James Bond with a Limited Edition Millésimé 2011.

To mark the release of the upcoming movie No Time To Die, the 25th installment of the James Bond series, Bollinger has created a limited-edition dedicated to 007, with a 2011 vintage. The jet-black 75cl bottle is adorned with the number “25”, formed from the titles of the previous films, which are similarly etched on the glass of the wooden box. The 2011 vintage, created entirely from Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village of Aÿ, where the House was first established in 1829. This is the first time that both the vintage and village have been used exclusively by Bollinger to make a dedicated wine. The 2011 harvest in Aÿ, produced complex, powerful and harmonious Pinot Noirs, fully expressed in this characterful wine.

Released by pre-sale on 5 October to mark James Bond Day, with an RRP of £150.

Tasting notes:

The decision to use Pinot Noir for this 2011 vintage, exclusively from the home village of Aÿ with its mighty fruit is nothing short of brilliant. Perhaps wait about ten years until the wine has reached its peak and completely integrated its enormous fruit with the barrel notes, but the wine is already magnificent with its deep ripe aroma of apples, backed by fresh wooden notes. House typical and powerful.

The first bottle of Bollinger appeared alongside 007 in 1979 with the release of Moonraker. Since then, the association has gone on to inspire numerous limited-edition bottles, with the Bollinger cooperage also home to a collection of vintage Bond posters.

Commenting on this milestone, Etienne Bizot, CEO of Société Jacques Bollinger, states: “It brings me an immense amount of pride to be celebrating 40 years of partnership between Bollinger and James Bond, it is a testament to the friendship started in 1979, between my father Christian Bizot and James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. A friendship based on our shared values such as excellence and elegance.”

www.champagne-bollinger.com