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Pommery sells dreams, not disgorgement dates

Pommery won’t be providing the base vintage or disgorgement date on the label of its new multi-vintage prestige cuvée, called Apanage.

Pommery’s new Apanage rosé

Although an increasing number of Champagne houses are choosing to provide such information on the labels or websites of their blends, Nathalie Vranken told the drinks business she was “selling a dream, not the size of my socks and the colour of my underwear.”

Nathalie, who is wife of Paul-François Vranken, owner of the Vranken-Pommery Champagne group, further justified her decision by comparing the marketing of the new product to the world of fashion.

“Would you ask Karl Lagerfeld which kind of fabric he uses?”, she said.

As previously analysed by db, there is division within the Champagne region as to whether it’s necessary to provide detailed information on the label such as the base vintage and the proportion of reserve wines on non-vintage blends, as well as bottling and disgorgement dates on all styles.

Some believe such information is only required by a tiny proportion of consumers, and most commonly just sommeliers and journalists.

Furthermore, certain brand owners fear that the addition of a disgorgement date in particular could confuse the average drinker, who might assume it is a “sell by” date.

Nathalie however is happy to release details on the new multi-vintage blend to those that ask, and told db the new Apanage prestige cuvée – a blanc and rosé – which retails for around £60 in the UK, was based on the 2005 harvest.

The product follows 2011’s launch of Pommery’s Les Clos de Pompadour 2002, from the brand’s single vineyard, which at 20 hectares is Champagne’s largest clos, according to Nathalie.

Les Clos de Pompadour marked the first time Pommery had isolated the produce from its single vineyard, and 2,000 magnums of the Champagne were launched at £400 each to celebrate the house’s 175th anniversary.

Nathalie also commented that Aboriginal artist Sarrita King had done the designs for the fifth edition of Pommery’s Pop Art series, which will hit shelves in June this year.

Meanwhile, the latest figures show that the Vranken-Pommery group’s turnover for 2012 dropped 4% in total to €326.1m.

Pop Art
Aboriginal artist Sarrita King has done the designs for the fifth edition of Pommery’s Pop Art series

Champagne sales were down 4.7% to €268.5m for the financial year ending 31 December, in line with an expected volume decline for the region as a whole of between 4% to 5%.

The Vranken-Pommery group comprises Champagne brands Vranken, Pommery, Charles Laffite and Heidsieck Monopole, while the company also owns Rozes Port and Domaines Listel in Provence.

Click here to read in-depth analysis on the disgorgement date debate, including which Champagne houses are now including dates on their labels, as well as those who have supplied such information for over 20 years.

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