“Is There Really a Champagne Shortage and How is it Going to Affect Us?”
In the past few years, the world has faced a global Champagne shortage supply due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the adverse weather conditions that significantly affected the vintages. The crisis with the Coronavirus pandemic affected each economic sector, including the shipping, import and distribution, imposing inventory shuffles and orders a couple of months in advance.
Another thing you have noticed while going through the wine shelves in the supermarket is the skyrocketing prices which come as a shock at first glance. The reduced crop harvest per area due to bad vintages plays a key role in the low supply and high prices. The Champagne trade association has a special environmental policy based on several “policy instruments”, including the creation of action plans and inventory for critical areas, realization of action programs, analysis and observation of growth with specific standards, and making new goals to improve further development.
Moreover, at harvest season the Comité Champagne (Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne) limits the champagne production per acre. Vintners are required to store a part of each harvest to be blended with other future harvests, to make a superior multi-vintage house style, or to keep quality in case of bad vintage. This also helps in price management.
Apart from the decreased champagne demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the champagne production was also affected by unfavourable weather conditions, with an almost two-week frost in April 2021 accompanied by continuous rains and hail, resulting in a 30% loss of the yields.
Consequently, the serious production crisis from 2020 and 2021 will affect the wine market in 2023 or 2024 since the champagne ageing policy included ageing in a bottle for 2-4 years. However, the wine merchants are already facing reduced yields for a couple of years, resulting in increased stocks for the upcoming years. The president of Comité Champagne said that 2020 marks the worst crisis in the world of Champagne since World War II, with significant demand reduction and devastating weather conditions.
Last October, the British Decanter announced the price increase of the world`s most popular Champagne bottles, including Dom Pérignon, Cristal ( Louis Roederer) and Comtes de Champagne by 9 per cent.
How Will This Affect Us
The champagne shortage doesn’t mean that there will be no Champers bottles on the shelves at all, you can still find a nice bottle of champagne at affordable prices. Another option is to opt for some sparkling wine alternatives which offer great pleasure at reasonable prices.
Champagne is the most famous sparkling wine made exclusively in Northern France, typically from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grape varieties. Good Champagne has a soft and creamy texture, with vibrant citrus and apple flavours, complemented with toasty and nutty notes.
Prosecco is also a very popular sparkling wine native to Italy. It is a more budget-friendly alternative to Champagne, with distinctive sweet fruit aromas of melon, peach, pear and green apple. Fresh and aromatic, Prosecco can be extra-dry, dry and demi-sec. Typically, this Italian bubbly is less carbonated than Champagne and is often a delightful constituent of cocktails, including Bellini, spritz, Mimosa, Prosecco Martini etc.
Cremant is another French sparkling wine made outside the Champagne wine region. Cremant is made in the same wine-making process as Champagne, where the second ageing point takes place in the bottle itself, rather than in stainless steel tanks like in the case with Prosecco. This specific ageing process gives a distinctive, creamy texture, while the flavours and aromas differ depending on the grape varieties. Currently, there are eight French regions which produce Cremant, including Loire de Valley, Burgundy and Bordeaux, and each uses different grapes, native to the region.
Cava is Spanish sparkling wine made the same way as Champagne is produced, with different grape varieties, including Macabeu ( floral aroma, citrus flavour and green almonds taste), Xarel-lo ( floral aroma, melon and pear flavours), and Paralleda ( intense acidity and vibrant citrus notes). Compared to Prosecco, sparkling Cava is less sweet, and it is less nutty than Champagne. Moreover, the taste of Cava is much closer to the classic Champagne than Prosecco.
In conclusion, the Champagne short supply does not sound pleasant at all, particularly for those who tend to celebrate each special occasion with a Champers toast. Luckily, there are many other great and delicious alternatives which can open the door to a whole new world of a pleasant experiences.