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Top 10 Champagne brands

The market for Champagne remains a place of ups and downs. Shipments to the UK slipped 5.1% in volume and 3.8% in value last year.

This was called “unsurprising” by the Champagne Bureau who also pointed out that the UK still remains the biggest export market for Champagne at 30.8 million bottles.

The total number of bottles shipped in 2013 has dropped by five million, following a 14.2m decline in 2012. With 304m bottles sold worldwide in the last 12 months, shipments were 1.5% down on 2012, when just under 309m bottles were distributed globally, which represented a 4.4% drop on 2011, when the region sold almost 323m bottles.

Shipments to Japan, Belgium and Australia all rose last year.

In the fine wine market, where Champagne’s grandes marques have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, prices have cooled somewhat.

The index on Liv-ex is still performing better than the struggling Bordeaux one but it has slipped by close to 2% on the year to date.

On the other hand, the CIVC recently agreed a small rise in the maximum yield this year to reflect a modest increase in shipments in the first part of this year of 1%.

This year’s top 10 brands reflect this topsy-turvy situation. Some brands have managed strong increases, others small declines.

Little has changed in the rankings though since last year, though Piper-Heidsieck’s recent reorganisation has clearly paid dividends as it leap frogs Pommery to seventh place on a 2.9% bounce.

Scroll through to see which brands made the top 10..

10. Canard-Duchêne

Volume 2012: 311,000 9l cases
Volume 2013: 336,500 9l cases
Change 12-13: +8.2%
2012 ranking: 10

According to French paper L’Union, Canard-Duchêne enjoyed an “historic” year in 2013, following on from an equally historic year in 2012.

Export figures advanced by double figures, with sales of the Charles VII range growing 25% in both domestic and global sales representing 9% of the house’s total sales.

Canard-Duchêne has also finished the renovation of its own winery along more sustainable and energy efficient lines that began in 2011.

The house invested over €1 million in integrating its winery into the landscape and it has been upgrading its cellars and production facilities at its headquarters on the Rue de Mailly in Reims too.

“Improving the look of our buildings, whilst taking into account the environmental requirements, is henceforth a priority for Canard-Duchêne,” commented Laurent Fédou, cellar master for the house.

The house launched a new Champagne to its Charles VII prestige cuvee range in February, “Smooth Rosé” a new sec for lounge bars and ski resorts.

With a dosage of 22 grams per litre the style is sec although the house has gone for “smooth” rather than “sweet” as the best descriptor.

“It’s a sec rosé called smooth which we thought would be fun to offer with a unique design that would be better to party with,” said Alexis Petit-Gats, managing director at Canard-Duchêne.

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
Tel: +33 326 77 50 10
Product range: Authentic Brut, Authentic Demi-Sec, Authentic Rosé, Authentic Vintage, Cuvée Léonie Green, Cuvée Léonie, 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 2012: 336,974 9l cases
Volume 2013: 360,000 9l cases
Change12-13: +6.8%
2012 ranking: 9

The house celebrated 100 years of making vintage Champagne in 2013 with the release of the 2004 vintage. The vintage was particularly praised by the house for its “outstanding” quality and its release was accompanied by the creation of a series of “short educational films” which are running on the house’s various social media platforms throughout this year.

Lanson also announced it is to trial wood casks for fermenting and ageing its wines in the 2014 vintage having previously trialled the method for its Clos de Lanson. The house has invested “millions of euros” in smaller stainless steel tanks and oak vats at its winery in Reims. The wine is slated for release later in the year.

Meanwhile, the house continued its sponsorship of Wimbledon – now in its 26th year – and celebrated the occasion by launching a new limited edition range of bottle jackets which were designed to emulate a tennis ball while also keeping the bottle chilled. Its support of the tennis tournament included a summer of marketing activity in the UK press and posters in a number of London Underground stations.

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: Tara Vincent,
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. Pommery

Volume 2012: 410,000 9l cases
Volume 2013: 365,000 9l cases
Change 12-13: -10%
2012 ranking: 7

Pommery saw out the end of 2013 on a high, with sales up 27% in value to €43.3m in the last three months to September.

The first nine months of the year were therefore up 9.6% versus the same period in 2012 with total value reaching €117.5m.

It was reported that premium sales were centred on France as well as the brand’s leading export markets.

The Vranken-Pommery group overall, including its still wines such as Provençal property La Gordonne, saw sales rise 5.6% in the third quarter to €66m but the nine month sales total saw a decline of 5% to €177.9m.

This was apparently due to lower “inter-trade” sales of unfinished “generic” wine in the first half of 2013.

In March the house announced it was to launch the new vintage of its single vineyard Champagne, Les Clos Pompadour.

The 2003 vintage is only the second release in the label’s history and was disgorged in January before being left in the cellars for a further three months before release.

Cellar master Thierry Gasco, told db, that this post-disgorgement maturation was to bring “a little bit of oxidation” to the wine which was “at the beginning of its life”.

The first vintage from Clos Pompadour was the 2002, which was released in 2011.

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
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

7. Piper-Heidsieck

Volume 2012: 369,216 9l cases
Volume 2013: 380,000 9l cases
Change 12-13: +2.9%
2012 ranking: 8

Last year Piper was in the middle of its “regeneration” following its sale to the EPI Group in 2012.

The house has fallen in the standings of late as it seeks to improve its quality and, more importantly, the improvements in quality that have been made by cellar master Régis Camus.

It was a point reiterated by the house’s president, Cecile Bonnefond, to the drinks businessChampagne Report this year, particularly when applied to Champagne in general in its new marketing struggle against the surge in popularity of other sparkling wines.

“There are times when it is not the same to have sparkling wine, and the reasons for that we need to promote: what makes Champagne different and superior, what makes it unique,” Bonnefond said.

Piper-Heidsieck has long sponsored film festivals and it was no different this year, with the house launching a limited edition “black tie” cooling jacket, for the Cannes Film Festival.

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

6. Taittinger

Taittinger Cellar

Volume 2012: 466,000 9l cases
Volume 2013: 472,000 9l cases
Change 12-13: +1.29%
2012 ranking: 6

Taittinger has been particularly active recently, sponsoring the Baftas and becoming the official Champagne of the World Cup for which it launched a new range of packaging and appointed a new UK director.

Its Comte de Champagne label has risen highly in the fine wine market place – particularly the 2002 vintage.

As the new Champagne of FIFA, the house launched a range of limited edition labels with hologramatic footballs at the beginning of the year – a piece of decoration that proved “not as simple” to produce as expected.

Nonetheless, he told the drinks business: “It is a big investment but it is a nice opportunity for Taittinger with the biggest event of the world and one that is a spectacular moment of emotion,” he said.

“It’s the first time we’ve done anything this big,” he added. Although French law precluded any promotion of the link within France, it was seen as a chance to boost the brand’s image in South America.

The house saw a record year in 2013, beating its rise in 2012. Its leading cuvee Comtes de Champagne, a brand that has been “flying under the radar for the past 15 years”, was eagerly picked up by fine wine buyers throughout 2012-13 and despite a slight decline more recently rose to be one of the leading grande marques in Champagne on the Liv-ex fine wine marketplace.

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 7384 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 2012: 583,333 9l cases
Volume 2013: 584,000 9l cases
Change 12-13: +0.1%
2012 ranking: 5

Laurent-Perrier continues along its marketing strategy to embrace the elegant and botanical.

Recent campaigns have centred on such delicate English past-times as afternoon tea at the Dorchester and sponsoring the Chelsea Flower Show for the last 16 years (latest garden pictured above).

The house recently became the pouring Champagne at the stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire – Chatsworth House in Derbyshire – for the next three years.

Set among the hills of the Peak District, the property is not only the family home of the Cavendishes but is also used to host weddings, conferences and dinners and the Chatsworth Country Fair and Chatsworth International Horse Trials. In all, some 700,000 people a year visit the property.

Laurent-Perrier will also be the house Champagne at the estate’s 10 affiliated properties including the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey and The Cavendish Hotel in Baslow.

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. G.H Mumm

Volume 2012: 664,028 9l cases
Volume 2013: 624,000 9l cases
Change 12-13: -6%
2012 ranking: 4

G.H Mumm’s biggest news of the last year was the repackaging it underwent in early 2013.

The house recently released its 2006 vintage which was noted as being “exceptional” from the first tasting of the vins clairs in November of that year.

It is, according to chef de cave, Didier Mariotti: “A vintage truly reflecting our style, one that draws you in with its depth and complexity.”

Mumm continues its sponsorship of motorsports and in May of this year launched a limited edition Formula 1 bottle to celebrate its association with the sport – particularly the winners traditional Champagne soaking on the podium.

Vicky Hoey, head of Champagne and prestige spirits at Pernod Ricard UK said: “F1 is deeply rooted in British history and people love to emulate that podium moment. We know that over half of all Champagne is purchased as a gift and with gifting options more sophisticated than ever before brands look to differentiate themselves from the competition.”

Brand owner: Pernod Ricard
Head office: 29 rue de Champ des Mars, 51053 Reims, France
Tel: +33 326 49 59 69
Marketing director: Charles-Armand de Belenet
UK PR: Proven Communication, +44 117 924 9303
Product range: Brut Cordon Rouge, Brut Rosé, Demi-Sec, Brut Millésimé, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Brut Séléction, Cuvée R. Lalou.

3. Nicolas Feuillatte

Volume 2012: 760,000 9l cases
Volume 2013: 823,000 9l cases
Change 12-13: +8.2%
2012 ranking: 3

Nicolas Feuillatte has had much to celebrate of late, hitting a new sales high of 9.9 million bottles in 2013 an increase of 8% on 2012, with a majority of its sales (some 52%) coming from France still.

Despite some 40% of its sales being discounted in French supermarkets, the co-operative also recorded a record profit in 2013 with operating profits of €17.8 million, an increase of 13.5%.

Total sales in 2013 reached €209.5m, 9% on 2012, encouraging results after the continuing slides in total Champagne shipments between 2012 and 2013, a decrease of 14.2m bottles in the former year and another 5m in 2013.

The co-op is now planning the construction of new head offices in the latter part of 2014 to replace the original offices built in the 1970s.

Brand owner: Centre Vinicole–Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Head office: Chouilly, BP 210, 51206, Epernay Cedex, France
Tel: +33 326 59 55 50
Managing director: Dominique Pierre
UK PR: Clementine Communications, +44 (0)20 7471 8730
Product range: Brut NV, Brut Réserve, Brut Grande Réserve, Demi Sec, Rosé NV, Brut Vintage, Brut Extrem’, Cuvée Spéciale Vintage, Brut Chardonnay Vintage, One Four Brut, One Four Rosé, Cuvée 225 Brut Vintage, Cuvée 225 Rosé Vintage, Grand Cru Chadonnay Vintage, Grand Cru Pinot Noir Vintage, Palmes d’Or Brut Vintage, Palmes d’Or Rosé Vintage

2. Veuve Clicquot

Volume 2012: 1,474,000 9l cases
Volume 2013: 1,450,000  9l cases
Change 12-13: -1.6%
2012 ranking: 2

Veuve-Clicquot has plunged (quite literally) into the world of Champagne ageing with the declaration this summer that it has lowered some of its Yellow Label (in 75cl and magnum bottles), vintage rosé 2004 and demi-sec wines.

The bottles will be left underwater off the Aland Islands between Sweden and Finland for 50 years as part of an ageing experiment.

The bottles were lowered into the sea, 40 metres below the surface, close to the spot where, four years ago, divers discovered a stash of shipwrecked Champagne (including Veuve Clicquot) that was bound for the Russian court in the 1840s.

The depth of 40m will prevent seaweed from attaching itself to the bottles creating an iodine taste, while the constant 4°C of the Baltic and its low salinity should ensure perfect conditions for ageing.

Veuve Clicquot plans to draw some wines up from the seabed at “regular” intervals to hold comparative tastings with bottles stored in the house’s Reims cellars.

The house has also been on the road with a fully renovated 1946 Spartan Manor Airstream trailer turning up at the London Wine Fair, The Boodles, the Goodward Festival of Speed and Festival No 6.

Finally, Veuve announced the latest vintage releases from its Cave Privée collection: 1990 and 1979 rosé and 1989 and 1982 blanc.

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
Tel: +44 (0)20 7759 7407
Product range: Brut Yellow Label, Rosé, Demi-Sec, Vintage, Rosé Vintage, La Grande Dame

1. Moët & Chandon

Volume 2012: 2,340,000 9l cases
Volume 2013: 2,415,000  9l cases
Change 12-13: +3.2%
2012 ranking: 1

Moët & Chandon launched its 2006 vintage at the beginning of the year, deciding to skip the 2005, which – despite its greatness in Bordeaux and Burgundy – was not so brilliant in Champagne.

Dominated by Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, the 2006 is described as “ample” and cellar master Benoît Gouez confirmed that a rosé would be released later in the year.

On the other hand, although the house will produce a 2012 vintage, it will not be releasing a 2010 or 2011.

Continuing in the vintage-vein, at the end of last year two more bottles of the famed 1914 vintage that the house had re-released were put up for auction at Sotheby’s selling for a combined £24,910 – out of a vintage collection that made £147,000 in total.

Earlier this year the Champagne House launched a truffle flavoured popcorn to pair with glasses of its Moët Impérial cuvée in the on-trade, and this is also the third year of its partnership with the Academy of Food & Wines Service for the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition which was won by Kathrine Larsen.

Moët & Chandon opened its Orangerie to the public for the first time this year to host ‘LE &’, a culinary collaboration between Gouez and three Michelin-starred French chef Yannick Alléno.

The house also launched its first outdoor digital campaign, featuring its brand ambassador Roger Federer, (announced as the House’s Brand Ambassador last year) and the live scores of two major tennis events: Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club (where Moët & Chandon is the Official Champagne partner) and Wimbledon.  Finally, this is the 5th year that Moët has partnered with the British Independent Film Awards in the UK, cementing their position as the Champagne of success & glamour.

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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