Champagne is on a strong upswing in the U.S. market


Propelled by a new generation of highly aspirational consumers, Champagne is on a strong upswing in the U.S. market. Depletions have accelerated each of the past two years, advancing by 5% in 2016 to surpass 1.4 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Meanwhile, shipment value has exploded. Since 2010, Champagne shipments to the U.S. have grown by two-thirds—or about 11% annually—to reach €540 million ($607m) in 2016. Last year, the pace of value expansion slowed slightly, to 5%, and Champagne shipments’ per-case value dipped about 1%—but that marginal correction followed a breakout 2015 during which value had surged by 28%.

Champagne marketers are bullish on the category’s future prospects. “Whether it’s with Prosecco or another sparkler, younger consumers are starting to enjoy sparkling wines on more occasions,” says Bill Terlato, president and CEO of Terlato Wine Group, which markets the Piper-Heidsieck and Duval-Leroy Champagne brands. “If we get them involved with sparkling wine, eventually they’re going to start to want Champagne, which is the ultimate sparkling wine.

Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, both imported by Moët Hennessy USA, continued to dominate the category in 2016, comprising 51% of the total U.S. Champagne market. Together, Moët Hennessy’s dynamic duo has expanded by more than 20% over the past three years, and is poised to break the 900,000-case threshold in combined volume this year. Two sweeter line extensions—Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial and Veuve Clicquot Rich—are appealing to younger consumers, according to Rodney Williams, CMO at Moët Hennessy USA. “Moët Ice was the first Champagne to launch at a higher dosage level, specifically to accommodate ice,” he says, noting that reception has been strong. Veuve Clicquot Rich ($63) is aimed at injecting Champagne into the mixology movement. “We believe these two innovations can take hold and create a whole new segment in the Champagne category,” Williams says. Moët Hennessy USA’s higher-end bubbly stable is also on the rise. Dom Perignon, ranked fifth in the market by volume despite a price point of above $160 a bottle, grew 4.3% to 61,000 cases last year.

Pernod Ricard’s Perrier-Jouët was the only top-five brand to register a consumption decline in 2016. The third-ranked Champagne brand slipped 3.6% to 77,000 cases in 2016, a drop that came on the heels of a 12% gain the year before. Nicolas Feuillatte, at number four, registered a 7.9% increase to 62,000 cases, regaining half the volume it had lost in 2015, when depletions slumped 16.2%. Overall, 12 of the top 20 Champagne brands in the U.S. market posted volume increases last year.

Aygline Pechdo, brand director, Champagne and sparkling at Pernod Ricard USA, says millennials are becoming key drivers of category volume. “The consumer base has diversified over the years and the consumption of Champagne is no longer reserved to the elite or older demographics,” Pechdo says. “In fact, most of the volume today is driven by ‘high-energy’ occasions, very much in line with millennials’ lifestyle and their desire to celebrate each day to its fullest—not just special occasions.”

Top 6 Champagne Brands in the U.S.
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)

1 Veuve Clicquot Moet-Hennessy USA (LVMH)
2 Moet & Chandon Moet-Hennessy USA (LVMH)
3 Perrier-Jouet Pernod Ricard USA
4 Nicolas Feuillatte Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
5 Dom Perignon Moet-Hennessy USA (LVMH)
6 Piper Heidsieck Terlato Wines International

Sources: Shanken News; Impact Databank

#TBT FIVE TOP CHAMPAGNE BRANDS BY GLOBAL SALES FOR 2014

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2014 Champagne sales hit second highest total on record with
over 308m bottles of Champagne being sold. This represent a 1% rise in global Champagne sales from 2013.

The Comite Champagne, formerly the CIVC, also estimated that worldwide Champagne sales reached 4.5bn euros in value terms, up from 4.3bn euros in 2013 and the second highest annual total on record, behind 2007.

This suggests consumers have traded up to higher priced Champagne, despite fierce discounting. Exports drove the increases in volume and value in 2014.

Most champagne houses, growers and co-operatives lowered their dosages since the start of the century, with an average reduction of 2.8 g/l over the last 15 years, a measurable reflection of an increase in BNV quality resulting from harvesting riper, cleaner grapes, and producing richer, more complex blends.

Compiled here is a list of the top Five Champagne brands, by global sales, for 2014. Where are your favourite Champagnes ranked?

1. Moët & Chandon 

Size (approx. annual sales, 2014): 2.45m cases

Cellar master: Benoît Gouez

It’s widely acknowledged that the quality of the world’s biggest Champagne brand – and flagship wine in the LVMH stable – has improved since Benoit Gouez became cellar master in 2005.

Within the last decade the category leader has benefitted from updated winemaking facilities, an increased proportion of reserve wine, better viticultural management and, as a result, riper fruit and richer, cleaner wines, which, in turn, have allowed for a lower dosage – Moët dropped to 9g/l in 2012, having previously hovered around 12 g/l.

During this period, they shifted its celebrity allegiance from actress Scarlett Johansson to tennis star Roger Federer – who remains the global Moët brand ambassador today.

In recent years the brand has not been tempted to release a drier variant of Moët and the house has no extra brut (6 g/l or below) or brut nature (0 g/l) Champagne, but, in the same year it discontinued its White Star, Moët introduced the Ice Impérial, which, with a 45 g/l dosage, is a much sweeter version designed for serving over ice.

Brand owner: Moët Hennessy

Head office: 20 Avenue de Champagne, 51200, Epernay, France

Website: www.moet.com

Product range: Moët & Chandon, Impérial NV, Rosé NV, Ice Impérial, Grand Vintage Blanc, Grand Vintage Rosé

2. Veuve Clicquot

Size (approx. annual sales, 2014): 1.55m cases

Cellar master: Dominique Demarville

Similar to Moët, Veuve Clicquot has seen its dosage fall by a few grams per litre over the last decade, but has retained its relatively opulent style, a function of the high Pinot Noir content in the blend, as well as high proportion of reserve wine, and more than 30 months spent ageing on its lees in the cellars.

It is the first brand to use biodegradable gift boxes made from its own grapes.

Brand owner: Moët Hennessy

Head office: 13 Rue Albert Thomas, 51100, Reims, France

Website: www.veuve-clicquot.com

Product range: Brut Yellow Label, Rosé, Demi-Sec, Vintage, Rosé Vintage, Cave Privée, La Grande Dame

3. Nicolas Feuillatte

Size (approx. annual sales, 2014): 875,000 cases

Cellar master: David Hénault

Director of winemaking: Guillaume Roffiaen

Made at, and owned by, the cooperative The Centre Vinicole Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (CV-CNF), the brand has access to 2,250 hectares of grapes from 5,000 growers at a winery which can ferment as much as 300,000 hectolitres each year.

Founded in 1976 – the label has a strong following for its contemporary packaging, good value blends, and partnerships with the arts.

Nicolas Feuillatte’s best selling blend is its Brut NV, accounting for 80% of sales.

Brand owner: Centre Vinicole–Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Head office: Chouilly, BP 210, 51206, Epernay Cedex, France

Website: www.nicolas-feuillatte.com


Product range: Brut NV, Brut Réserve, Brut Grande Réserve, Demi Sec, Rosé NV, D’Luscious Rosé NV, Brut Vintage, Brut Extrem’, Cuvée Spéciale Vintage, Brut Chardonnay Vintage, One Four Brut, One Four Rosé, Cuvée 225 Brut Vintage, Cuvée 225 Rosé Vintage, Grand Cru Chadonnay Vintage, Grand Cru Pinot Noir Vintage, Palmes d’Or Brut Vintage, Palmes d’Or Rosé Vintage

4. G.H Mumm Cordon

Size (approx. annual sales, 2014): 638,000 cases

Cellar master: Didier Mariotti

Famous for its red stripe and regular appearances on Formula 1 podiums, GH Mumm sits alongside Perrier-Jouët in the Pernod Ricard Champagne portfolio.

Niche, but excellent Champagnes in the range include the Mumm de Cramant blanc de blancs and Mumm de Verzenay blanc de noirs – the latter launched in 2012, initially just for the French market

Brand owner: Pernod Ricard

Head office: 29 rue de Champ des Mars, 51053 Reims, France

Website: www.ghmumm.com

Product range: Brut Cordon Rouge, Brut Rosé, Demi-Sec, Brut Millésimé, Mumm de Cramant Blanc de Blancs, Mumm de Verzenay Blanc de Noirs, Brut Séléction, Cuvée R. Lalou


5. Laurent-Perrier

Size (approx. annual sales, 2014): 545,000 cases

Cellar master: Michel Fauconnet

It is the largest family-owned house in France and currently headed by Alexandra and Stephanie, daughters of the legendary Bernard de Nonancourt

Brand owner: Group Laurent-Perrier

Head office: Domaine Laurent-Perrier, 51150, Tours-sur-Marne, France

Website: www.laurent-perrier.com

Product range: Brut NV, Rosé NV, Ultra-Brut, Demi-Sec, Brut Millésimé, Grand Siècle, Les Réserves Grand Siècle, Alexandra Rosé

Source: Drinks Business and Decanter