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We asked Jean-Pierre Ellne, Jonathan Saxby, Tony Dee & Jean Marc Lallier: "What are your thoughts on the new Worthit Champagne, sold by Woolworths for a fiver?"

Jean-Pierre Ellner, director, Charles Ellner Champagne
“I don’t know how they manage it at that price. It’s ridiculous. In the last harvest, one kilo of grapes cost e6 and it takes at least 1.5 kilos to make one bottle of Champagne. It has to cost at least e10 a bottle even without duty and other extras. Does the CIVC know about this? I’d be interested to know what they would have to say.”

Jonathan Saxby, managing director, Champagne Moutardier
“The first thing to say is that this is clearly a loss leader and obviously a product aimed at attracting more customers into their shops. It completely destroys the standards that the people in Champagne have been trying to maintain over the past two or three decades. No one here is allowed to sell the product for less than they paid for it. This is degrading to the image of Champagne and the people who are selling it are irresponsible to offer those prices.”

Tony Dee, managing director, Paragon Vintners
“Basically, I think it’s pretty irrelevant. They’ve bought a very small amount so there’s an extremely limited supply available. It’s quite a bizarre episode and not particularly good from the Champagne point of view. It’s silly really, and at that price consumers won’t see it as a serious entrant into the Champagne market. The key issue is that all retailers at the moment are having to manage a limited supply and increased pricing. If we don’t sustain the perceived values of Champagne for the consumer, we’ll undoubtedly see them turning to non-Champagne sparkling wines. Woolworths is just messing around.”

Jean Marc Lallier, export director, Champagne Deutz
“On this subject, well I have not much comment to make. Given the price of grapes, I trust someone here is losing money! In any case, clients will get what they pay for – no more.”

© db October 2007

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