8. Prestige cuvées will return with a vengeance
It is the paradox of financial troubles that spending on luxury products and less frequent but more costly nights out seem to rise while the middle ground suffers. It is true that prestige cuvée Champagnes took the biggest hit between 2007 and 2009, falling 33% from 739,779 to 494,525 bottles, but between 2009 and 2010 this category has also seen one of the strongest returns – 17% to 582,657 bottles.
What’s more, recent releases of the much anticipated 2002 vintage, not to mention 2004 Cristal and, most recently, 2003 Dom Pérignon have done much to boost the category. In fact, merchants appear to have problems supplying the demand.
Although perhaps not strictly a prestige cuvée, Simon Davies, head of marketing at Fine+Rare, notes that when “Krug released its new 2000 vintage, we sold out of our pre-release allocation and had to beg and beg for more stock”.
Berry Bros & Rudd, Fine+Rare and Matthew Clark all report great demand for Cristal and Dom Pérignon, although Simon Jerrome, wine purchasing director at Matthew Clark, notes that other cuvées from the likes of Laurent-Perrier and Perrier-Jouët are not quite in so much demand, which demonstrates the sway held by Louis Roederer and Moët’s brands.
Of course Lee James, wine channel director at Pernod Ricard UK, would beg to differ: “Over the last 12 months we have noticed an increase in the on-trade consumption of prestige cuvées.
“We have seen growth across our prestige cuvée portfolio, but sales of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 2004 are particularly strong. One of the factors driving this growth is by-the-glass sales made possible by the Perlage Champagne preservation system, which allows the restaurant or bar to open a bottle and serve it by the glass over a long period.”
In an interview last June, Geoffroy said he thought that Dom Pérignon was “hot” at the moment and he is clearly not wrong. Strong returns for the category and a buoyant luxury market gives prestige cuvées good momentum into the new year.