Champagne has staged a surprisingly strong recovery thanks to a very good performance in the last two months of 2009, especially in the French domestic market but also in the UK.

Export shipments of Champagne for the year should reach 295m bottles, Daniel Lorson of the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) said.

This will be about 10% down on 2008 – an improvement on the estimate at harvest time of shipments of around 265m bottles, which at the time was viewed as optimistic.

Philippe Baijot, CEO of Champagne Lanson, said this was ‘an honourable result’ and due largely to French domestic sales, ‘which suffered less than export markets’.

Michel Letter, CEO of Mumm and Perrier-Jouët, cautioned, ‘a big part of this was cheap brands’.

Actual sales were strong in both France and the UK at the year-end. French supermarkets saw growth of 8.6% in volume and 6.3% in value in the 12 months to 6 December.

In the UK take-home trade, sales of Champagne were up 3% in both volume and value in the 12 months to 26 December, according to ACNielsen.

It is too early to see if this recovery will last into 2010, although market observers say discounting for Valentine’s Day and Easter may keep sales growing in the short term.

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Written by Giles Fallowfield