Champagne sales have been overtaken by sparkling wine in the UK for the first time. James Hall, writing for the Telegraph, has reported that Champagne sales have fallen by a third since the start of the credit crisis as people cut back on spending on luxuries. Meanwhile sales of cheaper sparking wines have risen by over 50%, according to research by Mintel:
“According to Mintel, Britons spent over £1 billion on Champagne in 2007, which is the year that Northern Rock collapsed, heralding the start of the longest recession since the Second World War.
Mintel forecasts that in 2012 Britons will spend just £690 million on Champagne, a fall of 32%.
Meanwhile sales of sparking wine will have risen by 55% over the period, from £465 million in 2007 to £720 million at the end of 2012, Mintel predicts.
It expects the trend to continue, with Champagne sales falling to £609 million by 2017 and sales of sparkling wine rising to £835 million.”
Despite a fall in Champagne sales, Mintel said that the drink continues to benefit from its association with special occasions, four in ten people now see sparkling wine as a credible alternative for events such as weddings and birthday parties.
There are plenty of sparkling wines to choose from as alternatives to Champagne and I'm pleased that people are switching on to their potential. We've all heard of the more well known varieties out there but hopefully smaller producers and regions that fall under the radar will get the chance to reach a wider audience.
If you are interested in trying some lesser known sparkling wines from the Loire Valley and Alsace check out the new range here at Bordeaux-Undiscovered.
Last month Reuters reported that France's oldest sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux, was fighting for its life – not because of falling sales but due to being obscured by better known brands. Legend has it that Dom Pérignon learnt the secrets of Limoux's sparkling wine whilst on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain when he rested at the Saint-Hilaire Abbey. On returning back home to his own Abbey of Saint-Pierre d'Hautvillers, near Reims, he started to experiment with the technique on local wines from the Champagne region . . . and the rest is history.
For the producers of Blanquette de Limoux, Cava is the biggest obstacle. Around 300 million bottles of Cava are produced a year whereas Limoux only makes 10 million. If you'd like to learn more about their wines check out www.limoux-aoc.com.
I'd love to know what sparkling wines you have come across and if you have any particular favourites – and if you prefer them to Champagne.