Mark Here – I have just read on article on the drinks business website which claims that Champagne shipments to the UK were up 16.3% in 2010 to 35.5 million bottles.
This is an encouraging sign after the slowdown in 2009. According to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), sales to the USA also rose by 34.9% to 19.9 million bottles and shipments to Germany were 13.3 million. However, the really big news is what is happening in the emerging markets. Sales to China rose by over 90% and are now over 1.1m bottles and shipments to Russia were up 88%. Wine consumption in China, largely driven by wages, is growing at over 20% per annum.
Incidentally I was lucky enough to be invited to the Champagne Information Bureau (CIB) annual tasting last Tuesday of 83 different producers, displaying over 250 wines. Amongst some spectacular wines there were some really disappointing ones as well. We tried to taste a lot of the smaller less familiar names and perhaps that is where we went wrong! But several were very short on fruit, and had an unpleasant tar character on the nose. We also found that a couple of the wines made of predominantly Pinot Meunier had an astringent finish. However, we did find a couple we liked a lot.
Alfred Gratien – NV Brut – had good fruit and balance and good length, with barrel fermentation showing through.
We also liked the Francois Dilligent – Cuvee Anastasia – and the Triple Pinot Rosé. The fruit from the Pinot Noir really showed through and the crisp dry finish was excellent. We even tried the Francois Dilligent 1990, which was like a fizzy Burgundy, wonderful.
The CIB ran a fantastic event but many of the English Sparkling Wines are up with the best of the French, and better value.