French Supermarket Champagnes

Don't panic, I'm not going to bombard you with figures, but here are just a few that caught my eye from a recent article in the local newspaper L'Union  all about champagne sales in supermarkets

The first thing that was highlighted is that the average sales price for the first quarter of 2011, compared with the same period last year, has gone up by 1.7 % to 18.38 euros

That includes sales tax at 19.6 % so the price is still on the low side if you strip out the tax, but the trend is defintely on the up.

When you delve a little deeper there are more interesting data to discover...

You've aways been able to find really cheap champagne deals in French supermarkets - much  like supermarkets everywhere - and this year is no exception.

You can still find champagne at 11 euros or even below, and in fact 591,000 bottles were sold at this price level in the first quarter of 2011.

Whopeee you may think, I'm jumping on the first boat or plane to France that I can find, but if that's what you're thinking, then you'd better hurry because even though half a million bottles is a lot of champagne, the number of bottles sold at below 11 euros fell by a whopping 19.7% versus last year and now accounts for just 7.5% of all champagne sales in supermarkets

What I found even more interesting is that at the other end of the scale, the number of bottles selling at above 20 euros ( the most expensive category in this survey) increased by an equally huge 21.2%

Champagne at above 20 euros now accounts for 29% of all supermarket champagne sales

Does that mean that 11 and 12 euros champagne is a thing of the past? No I don't think so.

Does it means that prices are going up? Well clearly the answer is Yes and personally I think this is a good thing.

Champagne costs a lot to produce - on the open market you'd have to pay around 6 euros just to buy the grapes to make a single bottle, before you'd done anything with the grapes, let alone made a profit - so my view is that if you want to drink champagne you should be prepared to pay a reasonable price for it. Otherwise go for Cava or another sparkler

Besides, the champagnes you find in supermarkets are rarely anything to get excited about and that's even more true if the price is a rock bottom, so even if you do pay a pittance you often don't get much in the way of the quality and value.

That's not to say that you have to pay a fortune for good champagne either: there are hundreds of great champagnes to discover amongst the smaller producers at sensible prices and that's where you'll find real value.