Global Champagne exports rise 3.4%

Champagne exports across the globe have increased by 3.4% in value while the number of bottles exported fell by four million in 2012, according to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC).
The UK topped the list with Champagne exports increasing by 0.5% in value despite volumes dropped by 6.1% to 32.4 million bottles.

The increase in value was due to heavy spending from wealthy consumers from Russia and China living in London and often visit restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs – these places account for 30% of UK sales.
UK Champagne Bureau, the educational and promotional arm of CIVC, director Françoise Peretti said though the consumption of Champagne has gone down, consumers are paying high for the drinks. “We are seeing a new market emerging, as discerning consumers come and settle in London from developing Champagne markets such as China, India and Russia,” Peretti added. “This is where they choose to come to explore the best of Champagne.”

Liz Palmer

Veuve Clicquot Champagne & Sushi Lounge @ 2013 Sony Ericsson Open

The Sony Open on Key Biscayne is underway, and so is Veuve Clicquot’s Champagne Tent. Veuve Clicquot has brought back the popular posh oasis, this time featuring a sushi lounge by Sushi Maki.
Guest attending the tournament can stop by at any time to sip some Veuve and cuddle up on a cushy couch surrounded by mod tennis decor or stop by one of Veuve Clicquot’s three carts for a refreshing glass of champagne and a cup of fresh cut strawberries.

Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow Label is available for $18/glass or $118/bottle; and Veuve Clicquot Rosé $23/glass and $125/bottle.

Henri Krug [1937-2013]

Henri Krug, former director and chef de caves of Krug Champagne has died March 7 at the age of 75.

“Henri Krug’s passing is the disappearance of one of Champagne’s great personalities,” said Daniel Lorson, former communications director of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC). “He knew how to talk about wines like none other. He had an exceptional talent for explaining the art of blending, and knew in simple terms how to define the Krug style.”

Henri was the fifth generation overseeing Krug’s production and management, along with his younger brother Rémi. The house was founded in 1843 by Johann-Joseph Krug. Though Remy Cointreau purchased Krug in 1969 and luxury goods giant LVMH took charge in 1999, the Krug family always remained deeply involved, working with a notable degree of independence.

Henri’s time at Krug began in 1962, at the age of 25. Following family tradition and in order to preserve the house’s distinctive style, he worked closely with his father, Paul Krug II, as well as his retired grandfather Joseph Krug II. In 1965, Rémi joined the firm, and their responsibilities were quickly and easily divided: Henri managed the vineyards and winemaking, while Rémi largely handled communications and business.
“We always said we were two sides of the same fruit,” Rémi told a French newspaper after his brother passed away. “He was calm, reserved, unassuming, modest and always ready to listen to other people.”

Though they worked side by side for many years with their father, Henri’s and Rémi partnership shaped the modern lineup of Krug Champagne. To begin with, they reintroduced the house’s prestige bottling in 1979 as the Grande Cuvée, packaging the wine in the distinctive, fluted bottle that is a hallmark of Krug Champagne today. Henri also formalized the tasting panel that works for months each year creating and blending the wine, as well as strengthening the house’s relationships with top growers in the region and their supply of high-quality grapes.

In 1971 Krug purchased approximately 15 acres of land in the village of Le Mesnil sur Oger, including the enclosed, 4.5-acre Clos du Mesnil vineyard. With an exceptional harvest in 1979 and the quality of the Chardonnay of this vineyard, the brothers eschewed Champagne’s tradition of blending multiple grape varieties and produced the 1979 Brut Blanc de Blancs Clos du Mesnil (98 points non-blind, $3,350 at auction), made from one grape, from one plot and one outstanding year. The wine has been an icon of Champagne ever since.

At roughly the same time, Rémi recognized growing market demand for rosé Champagne. Though their father was against the idea, the brothers felt strongly enough about its potential to secretly produce a rosé in 1976. After aging was complete in 1983, they served the wine blind to their father. Paul was sufficiently impressed that a rosé could adhere to the house style, and so a Brut Rosé NV was created.

The latest addition to Krug’s bottlings, the vintage Brut Blanc de Noirs Clos d’Ambonnay, owes inspiration to Henri as well. Henri’s son Olivier began working with the house in 1979, and following Clos du Mesnil’s success, Henri planted an idea in his son’s head, saying, “Maybe your responsibility is to find a Pinot Noir vineyard to be a little brother to Clos du Mesnil.” Krug purchased the 1.7-acre Clos d’Ambonnay vineyard in 1994, releasing the 1995 vintage (95 points) in 2009, for $3,500/bottle.

“He was a perfectionist who has been able to convey his passion and demand for precision to Olivier,” said Lorson.

Henri officially retired in 2002, but remained active with the house’s day-to-day work until 2007. Henri left the reins of Krug in the hands of Olivier, director of the house since 2009, and Eric Lebel, chef de caves since 1998.

Henri is survived by his brother Rémi, his wife, Odile, their five children and several grandchildren.

UK Remains Champagne’s #1 Market

Champagne exports across the globe has increased by 3.4% in value while the number of bottles exported fell by four million in 2012, according to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC).
UK remains Champagne’s number one market, for the 17th year in a row. Amounting to 32.4m bottles; the UK is 6.1% down in volume but 0.5% up in value.

The increase in value was due to heavy spending from wealthy consumers of Russia and China living and visiting London. Restaurants, hotels, elite bars and clubs account for 30% of UK sales.

“We are seeing a new market emerging, as discerning consumers come and settle in London from developing Champagne markets such as China, India and Russia,” said Françoise Peretti of UK Champagne Bureau.
She pointed out that the value increase is due to restaurants, hotels, elite bars and clubs that account for 30% of UK sales.

“London truly is leading the way as the place to come and explore the best of Champagne’s diversity,” said Peretti.

Champagne Brands Eye China

Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger and other champagne houses could spearhead a move into China, in an indication of changing tastes.

Robert Beynat, chief executive of Vinexpo, was speaking to the Wall Street Journal following the publication of a new study.

99.5% of wine currently consumed in still wine. “The Chinese ignore the sparkling wines right now,” Beynat said.

He attributed this to a shortage of marketing by the champagne industry, and said leading brands would play an important future role in educating Chinese consumers about sparkling wines.

The overall growth in wine consumption in China is expected to slow to 39.6% over the next four years, compared with the 142% increase seen between 2007 and 2011.

Vinexpo expects 252m cases of wine to be consumed annually in China by 2016, up from 159m in 2011.

Beynat said the slowdown was a natural correction after the explosion in demand witnessed in China in recent years.

Nonetheless, he anticipated that the country would remain a growth story, as he pointed out China is expected to become the world’s sixth largest wine producer in 2016, ahead of Chile and Australia. “The more you produce, the more you drink,” he noted.

French wines still rule the Chinese market, accounting for around 48% of imports in terms of volume.

China’s per capita consumption is predicted to increase from 1.4 litres of wine per person to 2.1 litres over the next three years. This remains far behind France, the top nation on this metric, at 53.2 litres per person.

Source: AFP/Wall Street Journal