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Supermarkets in cut-price Champagne war

Champagne prices in UK supermarkets are in free fall as the major supermarkets compete for market share using French fizz as their weapon of choice.

Julie Campos, director general delegate of Nicolas Feuillatte

As we reported last week, Tesco slashed the price of its ‘exclusive label’ Louis Delaunay to just £8 a bottle in a single purchase offer due to run until 2 December, making it cheaper than many Proseccos and Cavas. Immediately prior to that is was down to £9.74 in a four bottle deal, already well below it nominal price of £25.99.

A blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier and 15% Chardonnay, the fizz picked up a bronze medal at this year’s IWSC awards.

Sainsbury’s, which has been far more aggressive in its promotions on Champagne in the second half of the year than Tesco, reacted immediately by re-introducing its favoured “buy six bottles get 25% off” deal at a time when it already had some sizeable single bottle discounts running. This reduced the price of its Henry Dumanois Brut NV from £12 down to £9, if you buy six bottles or more.

Sainsbury’s also added some further deals to its planned promotions cutting the single bottle price of Lanson Black Label to £22, which drops to just £16.50 if you buy six or more bottles (below Morrisons price of £16.99, although that is for a single bottle purchase). Under the same deal market leader Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial can be bought for £18.75 and Laurent Perrier Brut for £21, the lowest prices for either brand this year.

ASDA has Pierre Darcys Brut at £10, but hasn’t dropped below the £10 market yet.

However the only two current sub £10 prices have something in common; they are both come from the same négociant producer Les Roches Blanches based in the village of Dizy. Les Roches Blanches is set up to fill the vacuum left by Nicolas Dubois and his Pressoirs de France group and now it seems to be playing that role more fully.

Given the Champenois’ declared aim to make selling under cost a thing of the past, db asked Julie Campos director general delegate of Nicolas Feuillatte what she made of it all. The Feuillate entry level Brut itself has been promoted at well under £15 and the new Sainsbury’s deal brings the price of the superior Grande Réserve blend down to £15 from an already discounted price of £20. She had been in a Sainsbury’s store earlier in the day to see the deals for herself. Campos said it was the retailers, not the brand owners who were discounting the prices, but interestingly she also commented that the relatively high stocks of Champagne were exacerbating the problem.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s aren’t the only ones to have entered the Christmas drinks battleground. Last week we reported that Aldi has slashed the price of its fine wines and spirits by up to 78%. The German chain is selling Hungarian sweet wine Chateau Pajzos Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2008 for £18.99, which it claims has a recommended retail price of £76.

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