UK merchant to break Champagne sales record

UK merchant Bordeaux Index has forecast a record-breaking year for Champagne sales despite recent news the Brits are drinking fewer bottles of the French fizz.

Sales of Champagne through Bordeaux Index for the year to date have already surpassed its total for 2010 and are only 5% lower than 2011’s aggregate.

The merchant, which specialises in fine wines, has attributed the growth in Champagne sales to the buzz surrounding recent vintage releases from the Grand Marques, whether from the markedly different 2000, 2002, 2003 or 2004 harvests.

Current best sellers for Bordeaux Index include Cristal 2004 and Dom Pérignon 2002, as well as Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2002 and Philipponnat’s Clos des Goisses, from the same vintage.

“While the overall market for Champagne may have struggled, we have not seen a flight away from it – in fact quite the opposite,” said Gary Boom, co-founder and managing director of Bordeaux Index.

“The last rounds of existing vintages, such as Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000, Cristal 2004 and Dom Pérignon 2002, in addition to the release of new vintages such as Comtes 2002 and Dom Pérignon 2003, have meant customers have consistently had reasons to buy,” he added.

Continuing, he noted the positive impact of vintage variation in Champagne on sales of sparkling wines from a single harvest.

“Another factor driving demand is the inherent difference in the current available vintages; the 2002s are built for long-term ageing while the 2000s and 2003s are either approachable now or will be ready to drink much earlier in the cycle.”

“All this translates to the fact that our customers both want and need Champagne; some to store for a later day and some to drink now,” he concluded.

Earlier in the week a survey by market researcher Mintel found that a fifth of people said that Champagne is an “unnecessary indulgence” in the current economic climate and total Champagne sales have fallen by a third since the start of the credit crisis

Meanwhile, sales of cheaper sparking wines have risen by over 50%.

However, as the drinks business pointed out in its annual Champagne Report, published in March this year, Dom Pérignon, Cristal and Krug Vintage in collectible years such as 2002 offer strong investment potential, particular as returns on first growth Bordeaux continue to dip.

Indeed, Champagne is now proving a good defensive stock in any fine wine investor’s portfolio.

“People always want to experience delicious Champagne and they drink it, even young… You may not see the returns we saw on Lafite between 2008 and 2011, but you are unlikely to see 15% declines either, which we have witnessed twice over the last five years for Lafite,” commented Jack Hibberd, head of data and research at Liv-ex, when speaking to db for an article on Champagne investment in our 2012 Champagne Report.

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