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Champagne continues its vintage run

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Champagne, it seems, can’t stop producing vintages. This year saw, the release of the 2002 Krug, 2009 Cristal, 2004 Salon, 2004 Sir Winston Churchill and 2007 Rare rosé from Piper-Heidsieck to name but a few. The prediction last year was that the pace of releases wouldn’t slacken but added there would be one of two consequences for the category as a result.

Like Italy, Champagne saw its volumes decline a little this year but the 5.3% share it commands now is still far more than the 2.8% it represented in 2014.

 

Champagne is becoming increasingly investable as it returns consistent profits. It also has the right balance of a few standout, large volume brands and smaller, rarer labels and is seen as offering exceptional value at all levels.Logically, the stage is set for annual or near-annual vintage releases from the likes of Dom Pérignon, indeed cellar master Richard Geoffroy has said he would be more than happy to release a vintage DP every year.

The counter argument is that prestige cuvées are something unique and special and maintain their position and desirability by not being produced every year. Annual releases would erode the brand value.

Yet counter again to this would be the argument that first growth Bordeaux estates manage quite happily every year and varying quality of the vintage doesn’t appear to do much to impede the on-going popularity of Lafite or Mouton et al.

If one were a betting man, it might be wiser to wage on seeing even more vintage Champagnes in future, not fewer.

By Rupert Millar

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