CHAMPAGNE BULLETIN OCTOBER 2021

Champagne Bulletin October 2021

In this month’s Champagne Bulletin

  • New brands on the market – some interesting innovations.
  • What retail price is right for your brand? – a few examples to refer to.
  • Champagne is just as popular as ever - Champagne sales on track to reach 300 million bottles again.
  • Champagne Day – did you miss it?

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  • New brands on the market – some interesting innovations.

I’m sure you’ve all noticed the flood of celebrities who have launched their own wines and spirits brands over the past few years and some of them have ventured into the world of champagne.

The latest to do so is a French rap artist called Booba. He’s a big name in France and has already launched his own brand of clothing, a radio and TV channel and a brand of whisky, so with the following he has, his new champagne will probably be a big success too.

Not much is known about the project apart from the fact that he will be working with a champagne supplier that has also been making something of a name for itself over the past few years thanks to the quality of their champagnes.  You may not have heard of this company but that need not be a concern: for any of you considering creating your own brand, the good news is that I already work with the chef de cave (head wine maker) at this same champagne maker who I’ve known for over 20 years, so his expertise could one day be at your disposal too.

To find out more, please send me an email and we can discuss your project in more detail.

HooxahMeanwhile another new brand is attracting a number of articles and a lot of attention. It’s called Hoxxoh (no, don’t ask me how to pronounce that; I have no idea) and it is certainly eye-catching.

The bottles are florescent when in the right lighting, each bottle of the white version comes with 6 leaves of edible 24 carat gold,Hoxxoh and a small 0.45 carat ruby is embedded in the label of each bottle of the rosé.

The brand was actually launched last year and is apparently enjoying some success in the on-trade, especially in Italy despitE (or perhaps because of) the price: €250 for the white and €310 for the rosé.

The champagne is made by a small producer rather than a large existing brand or cooperative, so that would normally imply that production capacity is limited but the company is currently looking for investors, so they clearly have ambitions to grow considerably.

What retail price is right for your brand?

It’s a question that’s really important for anyone considering creating their own brand of champagne and I wish that there was a simple formula that allowed you to come up with the right answer every time, but it’s not as simple as that.

Let’s look at some of the factors to take into consideration and some examples from the market.

A useful way to do this is to take a look at the results of a competition recently held in the U.K. to choose the best champagnes of 2021

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2021/10/the-best-champagnes-of-2021/

Best Champagnes 2021What is of interest is not so much the names of the brands but rather the information that is given about each of them, in particular the retail price. The prices are the those in the U.K. so they are not directly comparable to prices in other markets but the positioning relatively to one another is relevant, as are the price categories that emerge.

You’ll see that there are, broadly speaking, 3 price bands

1) £35-£50

Accessible: for a wide audience with  relatively low wine knowledge; frequent use, celebrations

2) £60 - £90

 Special cuvees and vintage champagnes for more discerning drinkers. Usually, lower volumes than less expensive brands.

3) £100 > as high as you like

 Ultra-premium brands whose prices have no real reference point and cannot be rationalised logically – this is the classic characteristic of a luxury brand. (see New Brands below)

Convenient though it would be if there were a reliable formula that could be used to determine the retail price, alas no such formula exists. And besides, the market conditions as well as the rate of tax and the structural costs of doing business vary from country to country.

Having said this, a rule of thumb that has traditionally been used as a guideline in the USA is that the retail price is between 3 and 4 times the cost price in France. This takes into account the margin requirements of importers, distributors and retailers at each stage of the chain, but the real factors determining where you set your retail price are much more complex and include

  • the price of competing brands already in the market
  • the expectations of the consumers you are targeting
  • the distinctive features of your own brand and of course
  • the cost price and the projected profit margins of your brand

For a more in-depth exploration of this topic, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Having said all that however, just a few words about wine competitions and tasting panels in general…

The judges who taste and evaluate the wines are no doubt all very expert and knowledgeable and the champagnes they rate highly are clearly well made and of high quality, but the questions I always ask about this sort of ranking system are

How many champagnes in total were judged and by extension, how many champagnes did not even enter the competition?

All that a list such as the one we’re going to look at, can do is to give you a snapshot of a small cross section of the market. There are always going to be fantastic champagnes available that were not even entered into the competition

Champagne is just as popular as ever

2021The last ‘normal’ year for champagne sales was 2019 when annual shipments reached just 297 million bottles. That’s still a lot of bottles but it was a disappointing result for the champagne industry which had seen shipments decline steadily over the preceding 10 years from a total of 320 million bottles.

The 300 million bottle target represents a powerful psychological benchmark in Champagne and the failure to achieve this, coming on top of a decade-long decline in shipments was worrying to say the least. Had champagne lost its sparkle? Would Prosecco take over the mantel of champagne?

2020 was a disaster all round and there was not much serious insight to be gained from the 244 million bottles shipped last year – in fact that was much better than some had feared at the start of 2020 – so you can imagine the optimism and anticipation that has gripped champagne over the past few months that have seen a remarkable bounce back across the board with, whisper it quietly, the heads of some major houses saying that shipments could hit the 300 million mark once again in 2021.

It doesn’t look as though any other sparkling wine is going to knock champagne off its perch any time soon.

  • Champagne Day – did you miss it?

Champagne DayYou may not have noticed it, but October 22nd was Global Champagne Day. In fact, this date has been GCD ever since the initiative was started about 10 years ago.

It’s a virtual event that takes place entirely on-line over many platforms, and is designed to create a sense of community amongst champagne lovers around the world and it’s also an excuse, if one were needed, to open a bottle or two.

If you missed GCD this year, don’t worry, there are only some 355 days until the next one comes around. Start planning and practicing now!

 

That's all for this month's bulletin and if you have any comments or questions, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.