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COVID-19 Crisis Impacts Demand For Champagne

By Dave Simpson

Hundreds of wine villages around Reims and Épernay in France have experienced a decline in demand for champagne as a result of a significant number of events such as weddings and business events being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bbc.com quotes champagne producer and former head of the CGT Champagne winegrowers union Bernard Beaulieu as saying, "COVID has left everything reeling. The fall in sales is staring us in the face. It's hastened a crisis that, if you ask me, has been a long time coming."

"Long Pre-Dates COVID"

Beaulieu continued, "The crisis in demand long pre-dates COVID. In France, young people are drinking less and less wine, and there is growing competition from prosecco and other sparklers.

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"But the other crisis is the growing imbalance between the big houses and the small producers. By offering high prices, the houses have lured more and more vignerons into selling them all their grapes.

"As a result, there are fewer independent producers, and, at tense times like this, it is the rule of the big houses and their financial backers that prevails."

"Single-Yield" Rule

France's Champagne region follows a "single-yield" rule, meaning that all growers, or vignerons, agree to sell a fixed quantity of grapes per hectare, and any surplus grapes are either left to rot in the fields or are refrigerated as "reserve" for use in the event of a poor future harvest.

A decision about how many champagne grapes each of the approximately 15,000 growers are allowed to put on the market is due to be made at a meeting on August 18.

© 2020 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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