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Champagne trends of 2013: 10. Sweet surge

We have picked out the 10 key developments which we believe are shaping the Champagne market at present, starting with the rising demand for sweeter styles.

Sweeter Champagne styles are on the rise

Whether it’s the mechanics driving polarisation, or other trends, such as the growth in biodynamic viticulture, over the following few days db will count down the key trends in Champagne, starting with number 10.

So, firstly, of the many stylistic developments occurring in Champagne, from the continued rise of rosé to the gradual growth in blanc de blancs or the increased use of oak, it appears that sweeter products are a newly emergent and notable sector – despite the press focus on the region’s driest styles.

Above all, the sec level of sweetness (17-32 grams of residual sugar) seems to be an area of increased product development from Champagne houses, keen to encourage more Prosecco drinkers to enter the category, as well as increase Champagne’s appeal to clubbers, and those new to sparkling wine in Asia and Africa.

Speaking of Lanson’s decision to launch its sec style White Label (with 32g/l dosage) last year, Beavis says, “We noticed a strong consumer preference for a slightly off-dry style… With a younger audience coming into Champagne and brought up on Prosecco, a lot of new customers have a preference for something slightly sweeter.”

Elsewhere, Cattier launched Glamour with a 25g/l dosage, while Canard-Dûchene is planning to launch a Charles VII rosé with 17g/l at Vinexpo this year. The latter, says Canard-Duchêne’s managing director Alexis Petits-Gats, is designed to gain distribution “in trendy bars” in both France and the French West Indies.

He also sees potential for the product in the US – where he reports, “they like a sweeter Champagne”. This is born out at Moët, where Arnaud de Saignes says the brand’s Nectar demi-sec sells well.

Meanwhile, de la Bassetière at De Venoge says the brand’s Vin de Paradise with 22g/l has potential in China, where there’s a demand “for Champagne with a bit more sugar”, while Taittinger has packaged its Nocturne Sec Champagne in a disco ball sleeve to increase its appeal among clubbers.

Finally, confirming the increasing demand for sweeter Champagne styles, Champagne Jacquart’s chief winemaker Floriane Eznack comments, “No one likes to talk about demi-sec in the region, but a lot of people like to drink it. The style isn’t going out of fashion, if anything it’s getting more popular.”

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