Chinese interest in Champagne on the up

China is developing an increasing taste for Champagne, according to Salon president Didier Depond.

salon-99.jpgSpeaking at the release of Salon 1999 in London yesterday (Wednesday, 9 March), Depond told the drinks business: “I think the Chinese are coming round to the idea of Champagne – the market is where Japan was 30 years ago.

“Japan is our number one market, but China is a completely new prospect for us. We only sold one million bottles in China in 2010, which is a drop in the ocean compared to the UK.

“The Chinese are becoming more open to the idea of sparkling wine, but they use a lot of garlic and spices in their cuisine, which can overpower Salon’s subtle flavour profile. Introducing Salon to China will be a long process.”

Depond launched the ’99 vintage at Geales fish restaurant in Notting Hill yesterday.

“It’s the first time I’ve eaten Salon with fish and chips, but I like the concept,” he quipped.

Based in the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, known for its chalk-rich soils, Salon, made from a single cru and a single grape, Chardonnay, is only released in exceptional years – just 37 vintages have been released since it was founded in 1905.

“1999 was an exceptional vintage, and the resulting wine is naturally sophisticated and rich in flavour,” Depond said.

“If 1997 was Audrey Hepburn, then 1999 is Brad Pitt. It’s unmistakably masculine, but also beautiful and elegant.

“2002 will be our next vintage, but we won’t release it for another 3-4 years. It was one of the best vintages in Champagne’s history, but it’s difficult to judge its character at the moment, as it’s still only a teenager.”

Speaking of the increased interest in Salon at auction, Depond told db: “Salon is becoming more and more of a collectors’ item, especially the magnums, which people are going mad for, because it’s the best size for ageing Champagne and we only release a very small amount of them.

“The older vintages are selling at crazy levels in Hong Kong, London and Paris, but when I release a vintage, I can never envisage its value in 20-30 years.”

Salon jumped 20 places from 46 to 26 in the Liv-ex Power 100 chart last year, coming in just two places behind Krug.

A half case of Salon 1999 will be available through Corney & Barrow priced at £950 (in bond) from mid-May.

For in-depth analysis of Champagne’s performance in China, pick up a copy of the drinks business Champagne Report 2011 at next week’s CIVC tasting in London.

Lucy Shaw, 10.03.2011

No Responses to “Chinese interest in Champagne on the up”

  1. Tom Chamberlain says:

    Hi, is it possible to access the db Champagne report 2011, and other more in depth reportings, online. Or are there phyical copies available in Hong Kong?



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