I’m guessing that you’re already a champagne lover and you probably enjoy opening a bottle whenever the opportunity arises, but of course, Champagne isn’t the cheapest of wines and I’m afraid that I can’t do much to change that, although I can suggest where you can find some fabulous champagnes at prices far lower than some of the famous brands, but more about that later.
In the meantime the least I can do is to explain why champagne will never the be cheapest wine around and what is driving those prices
There are several things that come into play. You can consider them separately but in reality they are all linked
- Growing grapes in Champagne is an incredibly labour intensive undertaking. You can say that about many vineyard regions of course but the issue in even more pronounced in Champagne. For example, it requires about 200 hours of work, per hectare, to do the pruning and that’s just one of many vineyards jobs
- Partly because of this the price of grapes is high and rises inexorably every year. In 2019 the average prices were:
Chardonnay (Grand Cru) 7.15 euros /kilo
Pinot Noir (Grand Cru ) 7.10 euros/kilo
Premiers Crus 6.90 – 7.00 euros/kilo
Other Crus including Meunier 6.00 – 6.50 euros/kilo
And these are the average prices. Many houses pay a premium to secure top quality grapes from the most prized villages and the best plots, so the actual price paid may, in some instances, be considerably higher.
- Coupled with the price of grapes is the price of vineyard land. The total area in the Champagne appellation is limited and although there has been some debate in the past about enlarging the area, it hasn’t happened yet. With high demand and limited supply, it follows that land prices are high.
The very best plots in a Grand Cru village will fetch 2 million euros, or even more, per hectare and even for a less prestigious plot you would expect to pay 1 million euros
- Last but not least is the marketing of champagne and the profit margins involved, but that‘s too big a topic to cover now. I'll explain that later in another article.
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