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Top 10 biggest Champagne brands

The drinks business has compiled a list of the current top 10 Champagne brands by global volume sales.

While there are few dramatic changes to this year’s rankings – the slide by Piper Heidsieck was widely forecasted as a result of the brand’s recent repositioning – what does stand out is the decline in sales seen by so many of these major players in the Champagne category.

For many consumers, especially in more traditional markets, Champagne stands firm as the ultimate celebratory drink. However, this slide in sales appears to be the result of two aligning forces: ongoing economic difficulties in some of the category’s biggest markets and the growing competition Champagne faces from an increasingly ambitious sparkling wine market.

Read on to find out which brands are dominating today’s Champagne market.

10. Canard-Duchêne

Volume 2011: 333,795 9l cases
Volume 2012: 311,000 9l cases
Change 11-12: -6.8%
2011 ranking: 10

Canrd-Duchêne’s big news for this year has been the restoration of its historic winery with the help of a local architect, who also happens to be the brother of Groupe Thiénot’s president, Alain Thiénot. Canard-Duchêne has invested over €1 million to integrate the winery into the landscape using wooden cladding and trees.

The project was inspired by Canard-Duchêne’s environmentally-sensitive positioning, which has been spearheaded by the brand’s Authentic Green organic Champagne, launched in 2010.

Earlier in the year the brand launched a rosé in the UK exclusively for the on-trade and independent merchants called Cuvée Léonie.
The brand is also the new Champagne partner for the refurbished Vinopolis.

Brand owner: Thiénot Bordeaux Champagne
Head office: 1 rue Edmond Canard, 51500 Ludes France
Tel: +33 326 611 096
Managing director: Alexis Petit-Gats
UK PR: Marie Pamart-Costenoble
+33 326 77 50 10
Product range: Authentic Brut, Authentic Demi-Sec, Authentic Rosé, Authentic Vintage, Cuvée Léonie Green, Cuvée Leonie, Cuvée Léonie Rosé, Charles VII Brut, Charles VII Rosé, Charles VII Blanc de Blancs, Charles VII Blanc de Noirs, La Grande Cuvée

9. Lanson

Volume 2011: 352,483 9l cases
Volume 2012: 336,974 9l cases
Change 11-12: -4.4%
2011 ranking: 9

Increasingly, Lanson’s Champagne Category Report (now in its second year) is throwing up interesting statistics and trends for the Champagne category as a whole.

As well as the continuing campaign to push Champagne by taste and style that has been the house’s message for a while now, the new report has picked out the huge gaps that still face Champagne in the on-trade.

With CGA Strategy saying that what it rates as “Platinum” and “Gold” outlets have the highest rate of sales of Champagne in the on-trade, it comes as a surprise to learn that only 50% of them stock Champagne.

“If it were possible to achieve 100% distribution across these outlets,” said the report, “it would deliver a staggering estimated incremental value of £206.3 million to the category.”

In the houses marketing news, it will continue its sponsorship of Wimbledon and celebrate it with new neroprene cooling jackets and an exclusve Wimbledon cocktail.

Brand owner: Lanson-BCC
Head office: 66 Rue de Courlancy,
51573, Reims Cedex 2, France
Tel: +33 326 785 050
UK MD: Paul Beavis
UK PR: Helen McGinn Associates +44 (0)7973 618 782
Product range: Lanson Black Label Brut NV, Lanson Rose Label Brut Rosé NV, Lanson Gold Label Brut Vintage, Lanson Ivory Label Demi-Sec, Lanson Extra Age Brut NV, Lanson Extra Age Rosé Brut NV, Noble Cuvée Blanc de Blancs, Noble Cuvée Brut, Nobel Cuvée Rosé Brut

8. Piper-Heidsieck

Volume 2011: 450,882 9l cases
Volume 2012: 369,216 9l cases
Change 11-12: -18%
2011 ranking: 6

Piper-Heidsieck is still undergoing a process of regeneration under CEO Cecile Bonnefond following the sale of the brand from Rémy Cointreau to EPI Group last year for €412m.

One area it wants to really focus on as it does this is on quality and the improvements made by cellar master Régis Camus over the last 20 years.

Camus admitted to the drinks business: “For the last 20 years we haven’t really talked about the quality of Piper Heidsieck.”

The repositioning of the brand, upping the price was bound to result in a drop in volume and this has been the case but this has been accepted by Piper.

International brand manager, Catherine Curie, told db last year: “We will lose volumes all over the world.

“We have increased the quality so we increase the price,” she continued, while pointing to a more consistent commercial position for the brand. “Maybe we’ll lose some markets but we will not be on the big Christmas promotions any more,” she promised.

Brand owner: EPI
Head office: 12 Allée du Vignoble
51100, Reims, France
Tel: +33 326 84 43 00
President: Cécile Bonnefond
UK PR: Touch PR, +44 (0)870 774 0707
Product range: Cuvée Brut, Rosé Sauvage, Vintage, Rare, Cuvée Sublime

7. Pommery

Volume 2011: 410,000 9l cases
Volume 2012: 410,000 9l cases
Change 11-12: 0%
2011 ranking: 8

One of the hot topics surrounding Champagne at the moment is the question of disgorgement dates.

Although a great many houses have said that they will be adding the dates to their vintages and prestige cuvées, Pommery for one will not.

Nathalie Vranken, wife of Paul-François Vranken, has said that the house is “selling a dream, not the size of my socks”.

Meanwhile, figures for 2012 show that the group’s turnover dropped 4% in total to €326.1m, with Champagne sales in particular down 4.7% to €268.5m – although this was broadly in line with the downward volume forecast for the region as a whole between 4% and 5%.

The brand is also the star of the show at a new Champagne bar, Voltaire, in London’s Blackfriars. The bar sells the entire range from Pop to Cuvée Louise and in the half bottles to nine-litre Salmanazars.

Brand owner: Vranken Pommery Monopole
Head office: 5 Place du Général Gouraud, 51100, Reims, France
Tel: +33 326 61 62 63
Brand director: Sara Hicks
UK PR: Redleaf Polhill
+44 (0)20 7566 6700
Product Range: Brut NV, Brut Rosé, Brut Apanage, Apanage Rosé, POP, Grand Cru Vintage, Dry Elixir, Springtime Rosé, Summertime Blanc de Blancs, Falltime Extra Dry, Wintertime Blanc de Noirs, Cuvée Louise, Cuvée Louise Rosé, Le Clos de Pompadour

6. Taittinger

Volume 2011: 464,000 9l cases
Volume 2012: 466,000 9l cases
Change 11-12: +0.43%
2011 ranking: 7

Of all the many excellent 2002 vintages produced in Champagne, it was Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne which seemed to capture buyers’ imaginations.

In August of last year, Liv-ex reported that 2002 Comtes had accounted for 98% of trading in the wine that year, while trades in Taittinger six packs rose from just 11 in 2011 to 351 by August 2012. Merchant Bordeaux Index said that it sold 800 six-packs of 2002 Comtes in just three months.

One buyer for the merchant, Gareth Birchley, explained: “There has been a movement away from people considering Champagne as just a celebratory thing and to more of a wine.

“Most of all though they’re realising that the top examples are great value for money, Comtes de Champagne in particular.”

A keen price of £360 a case and solid scores such as 18/20 from Jancis Robinson MW certainly helped.

Brand owner: Taittinger CCVC
Head office: 9 Place Saint-Nicaise,
51100, Reims, France
Tel: +33 326 85 84 20
Managing director: Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger
UK PR: R&R Teamwork
+44 (0)20 7 384 1333
Product range: Brut NV, Rosé NV, Folies de la Marquetterie, Prélude, Nocturne Sec, Vintage, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Comtes de Champagne Rosé, Taittinger Collection Amadou Sow

5. Laurent-Perrier

Volume 2011: 580,000 9l cases
Volume 2012: 583,333 9l cases
Change 11-12: +0.57%
2011 ranking: 5

Laurant-Perrier was celebrating its 200th anniversary, for which it released a limited edition special cuvée called Grand Siècle Les Rèserves.

A multi-vintage blend using 1990, 1993 and 1995 wines, it was bottled in magnums and Jeroboams only.

A little later it was suggested by cellar master Michel Fauconnet that rather than being a one-off, Les Rèserves could mark the start of an oenothèque for the brand.

At the end of last year the house also completed a new cellar for the reserve wines of Grand Siècle. Fourteen new tanks have been installed, capable of holding 110 hectolitres of wine each.

The house is continuing its sponsorship of the Chelsea Flower Show and is also attending with a garden for the 15th consecutive time and will mark the occasion with partnerships at the Dorchester and Berkeley, afternoon tea at the former, a cocktail at the latter.

Brand owner: Group Laurent-Perrier
Head office: Domaine Laurent-Perrier, 51150, Tours-sur-Marne, France
Tel: + 33 326 58 91 22
Managing director: Michel Boulaire
UK PR: Wild Card, +44 (0)20 7257 6470
Product range: Brut NV, Rosé NV, Ultra-Brut, Demi-Sec, Brut Millésimé, Grand Siècle, Les Réserves Grand Siècle, Alexandra Rosé

4. GH Mumm

Volume 2011: 639,000 9l cases
Volume 2012: 664,028 9l cases
Change 11-12: +3.9%
2011 ranking: 4

The biggest news for Mumm is that its core range has undergone a change in packaging.

All bottle formats for the brut, rosé and demi-sec now sport different coloured labels to match the style of the wine – “parchment”, “delicate pink” and “oyster”. Furthermore, the famous red ribbon has been added to the neck foil and a collar with an eagle crest to highlight the brand’s heritage. The vintage will also sport the new design though the prestige cuvées will remain as they are.

Mumm has also been working on its “Champagne Protocols”, a “lighthearted” app dedicated to the etiquette and art of serving and drinking Champagne. It now has 100 do’s and don’ts with accompanying artwork from Israeli artist Noma Bar. The app was listed in The Sunday Times’ best 500 apps list.

Brand owner: Pernod Ricard
Head office: 29 rue du Champ de Mars 51053, Reims, France
Tel: +33 326 49 59 69
Marketing director: Charles-Armand de Benelet
UK PR: The View, +44 (0)1483 331 927
Product range: Brut Cordon Rouge, Brut Rosé, Demi-Sec, Brut Millésimé, Blanc de Blancs Mumm de Cramant, Blanc de Noirs Mumm de Verzenay, Brut Sélection, Cuvée R.Lalou

3. Nicolas Feuillatte

Volume 2011: 800,000 9l cases
Volume 2012: 758,333 9l cases
Change 11-12: -5.2%
2011 ranking: 3

Last year was busy for Champagne’s biggest co-operative, it welcomed a new president, Véronique Blin, and turned 40 – achieving “significant results” in the process.

The house performed reasonable strongly in 2012, turning a base net operating profit of €15.6m (up 7.8% on 2011) and reaching total sales of €192.8m.

Blin said at the recent annual general meeting: “Despite this success, we are conscious of the challenging economic climate and mindful of the importance of maintaining a cool head. We are determined that the CV-CNF should be a fundamental structure in the Champagne appellation, maintaining the equilibrium of the industry now and in the future, which is essential to ensure the continued existence and success of our region.”

Brand owner: Centre Vinicole–Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte
Head office: Chouilly, BP 210, 51206, Epernay Cedex, France
Tel: +33 326 59 55 50
Marketing director: Dominique Pierre
UK PR: Clementine Communications, +44 (0)20 7471 8730
Product range: Brut NV, Brut Réserve Particulière, Rosé NV, Brut Vintage, Cuvée Spéciale Vintage, Blanc de Blancs, One Four Brut, One Four Rosé, Cuvée 225 Brut Vintage, Cuvée 225 Rosé Vintage, Palmes d’Or Brut Vintage, Palmes d’Or Rosé Vintage

2. Veuve Clicquot

Volume 2011: 1,450,000 9l cases
Volume 2012: 1,474,000 9l cases
Change 11-12: +1.6%
2011 ranking: 2

Maintaining the Moët Hennessy one-two at the top of the list, Veuve Clicquot ploughs its own on-trade inspired course at present. It was recently named the house Champagne at all of Joel Robuchon’s restaurants, including his two-Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London as well as his 10 other venues in cities such as Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, Macau and Monaco.

The brand also overran one of Selfridges’ window displays at the beginning of the year with an “interactive” experience as part of its “No Noise” campaign.

As with its fellow Moët Hennessy property, Veuve launched its 2004 vintage last year, including for La Grande Dame – the first vintage release for the prestige cuvée since the 1998.

At the launch cellar master Dominique Demarville explained that the acclaimed 2002 was too concentrated for the cuvée’s style.

Brand owner: Moët Hennessy
Head office: 13 Rue Albert Thomas, 51100, Reims, France
Tel: +33 26 89 53 90
Brand director: Christina Jesaitis
UK PR: Phipps PR
+44 (0)20 7759 7407
Product range: Brut Yellow Label, Rosé, Demi-Sec, Vintage, Rosé Vintage, La Grande Dame

1. Moët & Chandon

Volume 2011: 2,205,000 9l cases
Volume 2012: 2,340,000 9l cases
Change 11-12:+6.1%
2011 ranking: 1

It is a longstanding question as to whether LVMH will ever sell the remaining shares in Moët Hennessy to Diageo. The latter’s CEO, Paul Walsh, recently told the drinks business that he asks LVMH’s chairman, Bernard Arnault, if he will every time he sees him. So far he has had no response in the affirmative. Clearly Arnault did not quite believe Berenger Bank’s announcement last year that a sale would “free up working capital and gain the balance sheet strength needed to make strategic acquisitions”, LVMH’s 66% share rising in value from £12 billion to £15bn if the holding was sold outright.

However, as long as the wine arm of LVMH continues to record growth of 11% (as it did last year with total revenue reaching €28.1bn) with rosé and the prestige cuvées doing particularly well, then there’s no reason why he should.

The house released its “elegant, sleek and graceful” 2004 vintage and cellar master Benoît Gouez defended the house’s volumes insisting it was “not a machine” and that there was a focus on quality and detail, highliting the suspension of the 2011 vintage for a week to allow the grapes to ripen properly.

The brand continues its sponsorship of all things tennis, especially the Aegon Championship at Queen’s Club and ATP World Tour. Roger Federer was named brand ambassador too and will be the focus of an advertising campaign later this year.

Brand owner: Moët Hennessy
Head office: 20 Avenue de Champagne, 51200
Epernay, France
Tel: +33 03 26 51 20 20
Brand director: Elsa Corbineau
UK PR: Emma Wellings PR, +44 (0) 208 747 9592
Product range: Moët & Chandon, Imperial NV, Rosé NV, Grand Vintage Blanc, Grand Vintage Rosé

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