I must admit I have mixed feelings about the strong identification of New Year’s with Champagne – I know Champagne is a popular way to celebrate the holiday, but I like Champagne all year long and I worry that the holiday fixation many drinkers have means they ignore Champagne the rest of the year. So I climb on my soap box (or more accurately, my case of Champagne) and remind everyone that Champagne is, first and foremost, a wine and it’s a wine that is more versatile than most. It is delicious on its own, and it goes with many foods, so let’s think about Champagne for celebration, sure, but how about using it to celebrate, say, Wednesday?
Okay, rant over. I am also very happy to note the latest statistics from CIVC, the quasi-government body that regulates most aspects of Champagne production in France. CIVC is gathering sales figures, but the news agency Reuters did some fast interpolation ahead of the government body and announced yesterday that 2015 was a record year for Champagne sales. According to the news agency, Champagne sales surpassed the previous record that was set almost a decade ago, in 2007. Apparently, in 2015, 4.7 billion Euros worth of Champagne was sold, a growth of almost 3 percent over last year.
(Photo credit: Lyn Farmer)
Why is this important? First, it means the wine market overall is healthy and the Champagne market, in particular, continues to find new audiences. And there is a subtler message here too: even though the value of the Champagne sold in 2015 eclipsed 2007, the volume did not – 312 million bottles were sold last year, while something over 338 million bottles were sold in 2007. Doing the math, what the figures indicate is that consumers are accepting higher Champagne prices and adhering to one of the mantras of the wine industry: it’s okay if we consumers drink less, so long as we drink better. On hearing the new sales figures, my friend Bruno Paillard, one of Champagne’s leading producers, summed it up quite eloquently, “Consumers need to enjoy life!” I’m all for that and I look forward to having several Champagne producers join us this October for the tastings, Interactive Dinner, and Bubbly Brunch that are all part of VeritageMiami: Late Harvest. Check my blog every week for the latest news!