The uncertainties and turmoil of 2016 ? from a geopolitical, social and even meteorological point of view ? have all had their impact on Champagne. And if the region was hoping for a calmer 2017, reports of severe frosts hitting the vineyards as this report went to press in late April will have offered little respite.

The past few years have been relatively kind to Champagne sales and, for all the twists and turns and the relatively gloomy picture offered by 2016, forecasts suggest a positive immediate future, with sales building well over the next five years.

But all of that will come after a year that offered a correction to recent growth patterns. Chiefly, the Champenois can blame two countries for this small downturn, as illustrated by shipment figures collated by Comit? Champagne: France and the UK.

just-drinks' review of the Champagne sector focuses on production, exports and the brand owners involved.

Within the production chapter, perrenial visitor to the Champagne region, report author Richard Woodard succinctly rounds up the challenges and adversities the region faced in 2016 and how this affected each house's production success.

Throughout the report, interviews with key personnel illuminate the review of the production year. E.g.

?It was a very complicated year for the wine grower in Champagne,? says R?gis Camus, chef de caves at Piper-Heidsieck. ?First of all, there was really no winter, and spring came quite early with higher temperatures.

?Then, on 26/27 April, we had frost. This was mainly centred on the C?te des Bar [in the south], but it damaged everywhere there. That means the harvest was down overall by 15%.

?Then there was lots of rain, which caused mildew ? the worst I?ve ever experienced ? and 100% of the vineyards were affected. That?s another 15% reduction in crop.?

The harvest lasted three weeks, and production ended up being higher than expected thanks to timely rainfall which boosted the size of the grapes. ?It was a really long harvest,? says Odilon de Varine, deputy MD and cellar master at Champagne Gosset. ?The Chardonnay was ready only when the [picking of the] Pinot Noir was finished.?

The result is a year, despite its obvious difficulties, of roughly average yields across the Champagne region as a whole. ?Ninety percent of people didn?t expect that even in mid-September,? says de Varine.

Champagne 2030
Rather like the revision of the appellation, Champagne 2030 ? sometimes called Project 2030 ? is a long-running process that has already experienced more than its fair share of delays.

The report provides an update on this initiative and its implications for the growers.

Markets round-up
Referencing IWSR data, this section of the report provides total consumption volumes of leading world markets form 2010 to 2020.

Aside from the included domestic consumption, the export markets include:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • Travel retail
  • Belgium/Luxembourg
  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Switzerland
  • Greater China
  • Sweden

Companies
The report profiles the major Champagne producers, covering their latest sales, turnover, domestic/export split, major markets, brands owned and vineyard holdings.

Companies included:

  • Mo?t Hennessy
  • Vranken-Pommery Monopole
  • Lanson-BCC
  • Pernod Ricard (Martell Mumm Perrier-Jou?t)
  • Laurent-Perrier
  • Centre Vinicole Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte
  • Groupe Thi?not
  • Taittinger
  • GH Martel/Rapeneau
  • Champagnes Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck (EPI)
  • Louis Roederer
  • Alliance Champagne 
  • Bollinger