5 reasons why Champagne remains optimistic for 2024

This week at a press conference held at Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, David Chatillon and Maxime Toubart, co-Presidents of the Comité Champagne, expressed their optimism for the future. Collectively, Champagne winegrowers and houses have taken strategic decisions and have launched numerous projects to ensure balance within an appellation that continues to sparkle across the globe. Initiatives include the commitment to regulation and social responsibility, the introduction of a new framework for contractual relations between winegrowers and houses, an increase in the reserve level, as well as the construction of Qanopée and a new research and development centre in Epernay; all of which bear witness to the industry’s ongoing commitment in ensuring Champagne remains desirable, available and exemplary.

1) A committed and responsible industry

To address the challenges linked to the employment of grape-pickers, Comité Champagne has asked public authorities to severely condemn the unacceptable behaviors that occurred during last year’s harvest.

It has also launched a strategic plan for the following four pillars:

Accommodation;
Working conditions, health and safety of harvesters;
Securing the supply of service providers; and
Facilitating recruitment.
Initial progress will be shared before the 2024 harvest.

“We are committed to providing a better framework during this crucial period, and to dealing with the fundamental issues. The aim is to ensure the smooth running of the harvest, which mobilizes 100,000 grape-pickers every year,” says Maxime Toubart, President of the Syndicat Général des Vignerons and co-President of the Comité Champagne.

In addition, the contractualization agreement governing the Champagne grape market has been renewed for a 5-year period. It secures market supply and consolidates the sharing of value.

2) An innovative industry

Champagne has a long-standing tradition of innovation, adapting to new challenges and evolving climates.

As part of the national plan to combat vine decline, the Comité Champagne is continuously involved in fighting against new diseases, including the flavescence dorée, and has equipped itself with tools to ensure the long-term survival of the vineyard, and preserve the distinctiveness and excellence of Champagne wine:

Construction of an “insect-proof” greenhouse: This new-generation greenhouse, built as part of the QANOPÉE project including Champagne, Beaujolais, and Burgundy wine-growing regions, is designed to secure the production of vine plants in north-eastern France. Inauguration is scheduled for summer 2024.

An expanded research, development and innovation centre at the future Maison de la Champagne in Epernay. Announced last year, construction is just about to begin. This centre will reinforce the industry’s initiatives for quality and sustainable development, with state-of-the-art equipment.
Raising the reserve level: a crucial tool for regulating Champagne production, the reserve enables a portion of the wines produced during good harvests, to be kept for future use in any deficit years. To guarantee a stable marketable yield each year and further improve the resilience of the
sector, the reserve level has been raised from 8,000 kg/ha to 10,000 kg/ha.

3) A strong appellation

For over 120 years, winegrowers and Champagne houses have been working together to protect the appellation and ensure its worldwide influence.

In line with ambitions to expand its network of embassies around the world, a new Champagne Office will open in Stockholm next April, representing the industry in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark). It will be the local point of contact for media, wine professionals, importers and government authorities in Scandinavia. This expansion is justified by the growing importance of these markets, with demand steadily rising over the last ten years (+67%).

Wine professionals around the world express a strong enthusiasm for Champagne. A recent qualitative study revealed their deep emotional connection with the product, highlighting its unique character. To further cement their connection to the appellation, training is crucial. That’s why the Comité Champagne is launching “Champagne Education”, a comprehensive, certified programme designed to train wine professionals and reinforce their role as ambassadors. This programme is already being rolled out, in partnership with renowned schools around the world (including the Ecole du Vin in Paris, the Napa Valley Wine Academy in the USA, the Cordon Bleu in UK and the Deutsche Wein und Sommelierschule in Germany).

Finally, the battle for recognition and protection of the Champagne appellation continues. In 2023, after several significant wins against misuses of its name – notably in Canada and Italy – Champagne was granted “notorious name” status in China, a first for a foreign appellation in China. This proves to be a huge step forward, providing further protection against any fraudulent use of the name Champagne, for any product, including any writing in Chinese characters.

“The continued investments and commitments we are making for the industry’s resilience are an absolute priority to give us the means to ensure long-term market balance, as well as ensure that Champagne remains an exceptional wine,” comments David Chatillon, President of the Union des Maisons de Champagne and co-President of the Comité Champagne.

4) Champagne remains THE benchmark

Champagne remains an undisputed benchmark for consumers. According to an IPSOS study in 2023, Champagne still embodies luxury, prestige and elegance. Consumers associate this wine with unique memories and emotional connections, making it the ideal choice to mark important moments and special occasions.

5) Renewed consumption and markets

The final reason for Champagne’s optimism lies in the renewal of consumption and markets.

Confined to “non vintage brut” for a long time, consumers are now looking for greater diversity in blends and dosage.

Demand for rosé Champagne abroad has increased 5-fold in 20 years. By the end of 2022, it represented over 10% of export sales, with 20 million bottles.

Low dosage wines (extra brut and zero dosage) are also on the rise, with volumes increasing almost 70-fold in the space of 20 years (6.4 million bottles exported in 2022).

Exports now account for almost 60% of total sales (171.7 million bottles), compared to 45% ten years ago, but many markets remain to be conquered. While 80% of Champagne is still sold in 8 countries, new markets such as Canada, South Africa and South Korea are showing growing interest in Champagne and have recorded remarkable growth in recent years.
Sustainability Update

With the Champagne region located at the northernmost portion of prime grape-growing latitudes, growers have spent more than a century thinking about climate and its impact on weather. As the world grapples with climate change, it’s no surprise Champagne is at the leading edge of sustainability practices.

Champagne in 2003 became the first wine-growing region in the world to conduct a carbon footprint assessment, identify the main sources of emissions, and enact a plan to curb those emissions. Since then, Champagne producers have cut CO2 emissions generated by each bottle of Champagne by 20 percent. The region aims to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

While honoring our traditions, Champagne also embraces the science of viticulture. Over the years, that has meant adopting new techniques to protect our vines from disease, create optimal yields, and husband our resources. The region is experimenting with soil management, growing practices, vine spacing, grape ripening, harvesting techniques and fermenting practices to prepare for the effects of climate change.

In 2014, the Champagne region planted new varietals to determine how they would fare in an era of extreme weather. Comité Champagne is continuing to evaluate these varietals to ensure the quality and yield meets the high standards for which Champagne is known, a process that takes at least 15 years. If new varietals are chosen, they will need to be registered in the French catalogue of vine varietals and added to the Champagne protection denomination of origin specifications.

Nine Creative Ways to Use Leftover Champagne

New Year’s celebrations have ended and somehow you still have some left, how can that be?

Here are nine creative ways, I’ve learned along the way how to use leftover champagne.

1. Mix up some Champagne cocktails.
2. Freeze into ice cubes to use in cocktails and sauces.
3. Soak some fruits in Champagne for brunch.
4. Make a Champagne vinaigrette – yumm.
5. Use to make luscious Champagne truffles.
6. Make a mouth-watering Risotto.
7. Create sauces for a seafood dish.
8. Create a creamy Champagne chicken dish.
9. Add it to your bath water and enjoy the moment !

“Ungrafted Vines” hits the silver screen in 2024

He’s a winemaker, a rebel, an iconoclast and an outspoken critic of Bordeaux’s “industrial soup” style of winemaking – and now Loïc Pasquet is an unlikely movie star.

Pasquet’s battles with the Bordeaux establishment have seen him dragged to court, fined and forbidden from using the Bordeaux appellation because of his commitment ungrafted vines and native Bordeaux varieties. However, he has had the sweetest of revenges by producing a wine that has become the most expensive Bordeaux-produced wine – and now a movie about his achievements is hitting the screen.

The 51-minute documentary will air via Apple TV next year and features Pasquet documenting his battles with bureaucracy and his dedication to recreating the pre-phylloxera wines of Bordeaux. It also features input from respected wine writers like Jane Anson and Jacky Rigaux.

Pasquet, who bought his first bottle of wine when he was just 11 years old, believes that wine is a European cultural treasure and that it has been debased by too many Bordeaux producers in order to pander to critics, rather than simply making wines that reflect the terroir.

“Why destroy that heritage to make one style of wine? They are saying to [wine critic Robert] Parker ‘What wine do you like? We will make it for you.’ They are making industrial soup,” he told journalists at a preview of the film.

The launch of Pasquet’s 2015 vintage of Liber Pater at a staggering $33,000 (subsequent vintages have also hit that mark) was the spark for the documentary, but he was open about his pricing policy.

“This is what my customers will pay to drink something that nobody else can. If you go into space, how much does it cost?”

He was referencing his wines being made from grapes grown on ungrafted vines, an anomaly in Bordeaux.

“If you try a Bordeaux from 1860 [before phylloxera prompted the grafting of vines onto disease-resistant rootstocks] and 1960 you can taste the difference. Grafting changes the chemical composition of the wine.”

Source: Wine Searcher

Caroline Frey brings two iconic wines into La Place de Bordeaux

Domaine La Chapelle has announced this week, the inclusion of two of its most renowned wines, La Chapelle and Le Chevalier de Sterimberg, into Bordeaux La Place.

“This marks a significant milestone for La Chapelle as we proudly associate ourselves with the esteemed wines of La Place de Bordeaux,” stated Caroline Frey, President and winemaker of Domaine La Chapelle. Reflecting on the heritage of the vineyard, Frey further shared, “The hill of La Chapelle, once tended by the Chevalier de Sterimberg in the 13th century, has an emotional resonance that every visitor can feel.”

The highly anticipated release is being rolled out starting today, August 31st, featuring the debut of the 2021 vintage of La Chapelle and Chevalier de Sterimberg. Wine experts and collectors can also delight in the availability of the 2006, 2011, and 2013 vintages of La Chapelle.

“Over nearly two decades, our team has passionately worked to sustain the unique heritage of this terroir, and we believe this partnership with La Place de Bordeaux will further complement our journey,” explained Frey.

Domaine La Chapelle, held by the Frey family alongside esteemed estates such as Château La Lagune and Château Corton C, stands as a testament to winemaking’s artistry and heritage. Spanning 26 hectares across the exquisite terroirs of Hermitage, La Chapelle continues to shine among the world’s most exceptional wines.