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Who Am I?

17 years spent living and working in Champagne has allowed Jiles to build up a vast amount of knowledge about all things bubbly as well as a very extensive network of contacts, especially amongst the smaller and less well-known champagne makers whose champagnes will probably amaze you with their quality and diversity.

A job as area manager for Asia and Australia with Moët et Chandon was what first drew Jiles to Champagne after completing an MBA in Luxury Brand Management at ESSEC, a prestigious business school just outside Paris.

After nearly 9 years at Moët Jiles moved back to the UK where he started one of the first online businesses promoting and selling grower champagnes, wrote two books on champagne and created an online champagne study course.

However the draw of ‘The King of Wines and the Wine of Kings’ once again proved irresistible and another 8 year stay in Champagne was the result.

Jiles now puts his knowledge and contacts to work in helping businesses and individuals to create their own private champagne brand.


 

Heat wave in France – what does this mean for vintage champagne?

Epernay heat waveIn case you didn’t see the news, France recently experienced a heat wave.

The north of France, including the Champagne area, saw some of the highest temperatures reaching 350 C (950 F) in a few places.

The last year when such high temperatures were recorded was 2003 – in some plots the grapes practically fried on the vine.

Most champagne houses wrote off the idea of producing a vintage champagne as a waste of time, judging that the yields were too low, sugar levels far too high and acidity levels not high enough. Houses that, nevertheless, declared a vintage, were considered either unwise, or just plain crazy, but there were some serious names amongst them: Moët & Chandon and Bollinger.

Perhaps that tells us something about the prospects for the 2019 vintage and about vintage champagne in general too?

Creating a private brand of champagne can be great fun – and of course enjoying the results is enjoyable too – but like many projects, it is complex and requires careful management. Here are just some of the questions that need to be answered – the list is not exhaustive!

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about most of these because I can guide you through all 35 questions and more. Nevertheless, the questions will probably highlight plenty of issues we will need to consider.

The Champagne (what level of knowledge do you have about champagne?)

  1. What kind of champagne maker do you want to work with: NM, RM or CM?
  2. Do you understand the difference between these three?
  3. What type of champagne are you looking for: Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, a blend, rosé champagne, vintage champagne…?
  4. How many bottles will you need this year and in 5 years’ time?

The name and design (how advanced and detailed are your plans for the brand identity?)

  1. Have you already designed a logo, a colour scheme and a visual identity the for the brand?
  2. Do you have in mind a name for your brand?
  3. Have you done any research into the name to ensure that it is not already registered?
  4. Is your preferred name likely to be approved by the regulatory body in Champagne?

The corks

  1. Which quality of cork do you require - there are at least 4 different grades?
  2. Do you want a generic cork or a branded cork?
  3. Do you want branding on the top, sides or bottom of the cork?

The plaque and wire

  1. What colour capsule?
  2. Do you want branding on the capsule?
  3. If so, a logo or text?
  4. Will the text fit in the available space?
  5. What colour wire do you want?

The foil

  1. What length of foil?
  2. What colour of foil?
  3. What finish to the foil: matt, polished, textured? ( there are dozens of possibilities)
  4. What weight of foil? (a heavier material may feel more prestigious but is more expensive)
  5. Do you want an easy-open tab or not?
  6. Do you want branding printed on the foil?
  7. In which language?

 

The label

  1. What size and shape label?
  2. Will your preferred size and shape fit on the champagne maker’s labelling machine?
  3. Have you already had a label design created?
  4. What colour, type and quality of paper?
  5. What type of printing?
  6. How many colours need to be printed?
  7. Is gold foil or other metallic printing involved
  8. Do you need a back label? (the answer is probably, Yes)
  9. Do you want a different type of label – metal for example?

The bottle

  1. What colour glass? (Green is the most common, but other colours are possible)
  2. Do you require a standard, or special, bottle shape?
  3. Would you consider a plastic sleeve on the bottle to achieve the effect you want?

To find out more and to discuss an idea you have in mind please contact me at

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A glass half empty, or a glass half full?

Despite a fall in shipment volume, champagne is in good shape.


Glass half empry, or glass half full?Official figures for champagne shipments in 2018 will not be released until March but initial reports are that total shipments fell from 307 million bottles in 2017 (25.6 million 9 litre cases) to around 302 million in 2018 ( 25.2 million 9 litre cases).


A fall of 5 million bottles, or 1.5%, is not what you would wish for, but look beyond the headlines and there’s a different story playing out - champagne is in better shape than the headlines imply.


1) From volume to value

Much of the decline in 2018 is in champagne’s two largest markets by volume: France and the U.K.

Both have been on the slide for several years but in France matters were made worse by the ‘Gilet Jaunes’ disturbances during the crucial Christmas selling period that affected both the national mood and the physical distribution of goods.

In the U.K., sales have not been helped by uncertainty surrounding Brexit, although the U.K. remains the largest export market for champagne in terms of volume.

France is a low value market. Consumers have easy access to a whole host of inexpensive brands never seen outside France, and are accustomed to a wide choice of undifferentiated brands at low prices.

The U.K. is heavily influenced by supermarket brands that are sold in huge volumes, but usually at very attractive promotional prices.
But if the decline in these two markets is offset by increases in higher value markets, then perhaps the trend is favourable for the long-term health of champagne.

2) High value markets

While we wait for the 2018 shipment figures, we can infer a few things from the past couple of years.

In 2015 the US market overtook the UK as the highest value export market and in volume terms too, it continues to grow strongly. Shipments in 2017 were up 8.5% y.o.y. to reach 23 million bottles (1.9 million 9 litre cases) and 585 million euros in value: roughly €25 per bottle.

In contrast, the average per bottle value in France is just under €14 and in the U.K. it’s just under €15.
Other markets are growing not just in volume but, perhaps more importantly, in value too: Japan (average value per bottle €24 ), China (€21). South Africa (€23) Nigeria (€29) and Canada (€24)

In fact, the final figures could well show that 2018 was a record year for champagne in terms of value.

Not too shabby and certainly not a cause for undue pessimism

 

 

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