Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Champagne's Growing Demand

Looks like we will be needing a new map! The region of Champagne is growing....good thing? (Shrugging) Hell if I know and it will be 10 years before any of those wines begin showing up on the market so there is plenty of time to discuss it......why aren't we?
Why aren’t more people talking about this? To grant the extension to an AOC in France is damn near unheard of….just doesn’t happen but here it is happening. It is not just happening on a tiny scale they are adding just fewer than 40 communes to the appellation….what the hell?! The reason given for the expansion is the growing world-wide demand for Champagne and I don’t doubt it, as it is quite the fantastic beverage but I suspect there may be a bit of a bailout for the Grande Marques going on…..

Being the Champagne buyer for The Wine Country over the past eight years I have seen first-hand the serious drop in quality coming from the Grande Marques, as long standing contracts with small growers have dissolved and these growers are opting not to renew them, choosing instead to save their best grapes to go into their own Champagnes. The, “big guys” do not own enough vineyards on their own to produce the millions of cases they crank out every year. Bad news for them but the upside for us as the consumer is that we now have a wealth of extremely high quality grower Champagnes at our fingertips! These wines slam the big houses in all the blind tastings I do and to top it off, are Premier Cru and in some cases Grand Cru and many of them are in line price wise with the big house’s entry level wines.

Let’s throw the weak dollar on top of the high demand and the prices of our beloved bubbles just keep going up….rather depressing really but as the Russians and the Chinese celebrate their newly established wealth with bottle after bottle of Champagne we have seen a decrease in sales, (in The Wine Country’s Champagne department) all year long. These people, that have suffered years of oppression, poverty and food rationing are kicking down the dollars, yen and rubles to enjoy a fine glass of Champagne what is the deal Americans, be patriotic, rip the foil off those bottles and let's show those other countries how America rolls. Are we feeling blue and not wanting to get our little bubbles on? Yes, the prices have spiked, yes a bottle that once cost $40.00 now costs $60.00……just the way it is folks, we are going to have to get over the, “But it used to cost….thing”. I can assure you that $60.00 dollars can be no better spent than on having a rich, toasty, red fruited bubbly tickle your nose or to have a glass of steely Blanc de Blancs to wash down a plate full of briny oysters. To hear the room get a teensy bit louder with each glass as people laugh, flirt, sip and clink…..these are the moments worth spending for people.

Let the Russians, English, Chinese and whoever have the Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger, Roederer, Moet & Chandon…..take them please but we need to start gobbling up the Agrapart, Pierre Peters, Camille Saves, H. Billiot and Rene Geoffroy…..we will be drinker better, smarter and ultimately cheaper!

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