Here's a quick round up of what's been going on in and around Champagne in February
It’s cold out in the vineyards
February is usually a quiet month in Champagne. Some vignerons are busy with pruning but many others prefer to rely on the old adage ‘ Taille tôt, taille tard, rien ne vaut la taille de mars’ which put simply means ‘Nothing beats pruning in March’. In truth, perhaps they just hope that the weather will be a little milder in March.
But warmer inside
Instead of working outside, for many champagne makers February is a time to taste and evaluate the wines from last year’s harvest and to address the complex task of blending. In larger establishments blending may involve dozens or hundreds of bottles and a whole team of oenologists all taking notes and making a contribution to the final decisions.
The other end of the scale sees many small family groups often spanning several generations, sat around a table, tasting a dozen or so bottles, with calculators and note books at the ready, and using the same tried and tested procedure that they have used for years and years.
Both scenes are an integral part of life in Champagne
February is also a good time for planning the year ahead if it hasn’t already been done. Many champagne makers take the opportunity to make business trips to see existing customers and to prospect for new customers, although this year has proven difficult in this regard because of the uncertainties posed by the Corona virus.
Sales are looking rosé
On the sales front, Valentine’s Day is the big event and although there are no data for 2020 available as yet, it is hoped that this year will have seen another increase in the popularity of rosé champagne which is traditionally associated with romance and St. Valentine’s days especially in the USA where in 2019 the value of rosé champagne sales increased by over 50% in the week of St. Valentine’s Day compared with the previous week according to the research agency Nielsen
Louis Roederer, Charles Heidsieck and Pol Roger were named and the No. 1, 2 and 3 most admired champagne brands by Drinks International
The evaluation included the quality of the champagne and other criteria such as the marketing and packaging as well as the overall customer appeal.
Not many major surprises at the top of the list, but one or two interesting entries a little further down including a few cooperatives (Castelnau, Pannier, Le Mesnil, for example).
Personally, I am not sure of the value of this classification for the majority of champagne drinkers. As with so many similar competitions I am always left wondering who else entered the competition and did not make the list or were there only the 30 entries that appear on the list.
Still, as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity, so I guess the brand featured on the list will be pleased.
That's it's for this month. See you in March