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Champagne price rise expected

Champagne is expected to go up in price in the New Year as grape prices increase in the region.

Champagne: grape prices up for 2011 harvest

Although Champagne is currently being heavily discounted by supermarkets fighting for market share, the rise in grape prices from the 2011 harvest means that selling prices for the main brands will be forced to rise.

The cost of grapes is expected to rise by at least 3% soon after the harvest and there was evidence of larger increases for grand cru grapes, sometimes as much as 4.5%.

Speaking in London at the launch of the 2000 vintage of their prestige cuvée Femme de Champagne, Carol Duval-Leroy, chairman of the eponymous house, said the increase in grape prices is ‘collective suicide, we are all going to the wall.

‘The cost of grapes has gone up too much over the past few years. It will mean [retail] prices going up by between 3 and 6% in the UK. The consumer may be reluctant to pay so much and turn to Prosecco where they can buy a case for the price of two bottles of champagne.’

‘We are hoping the increase won’t be higher than 2% to 3%, but this will depend on the Crus involved, Bruno Paillard, chairman of BCC, Champagne’s second largest group and owner of Lanson said.

‘Some places in the Aube this year should see their price rise to €5 per kilo, while some grands crus grapes will cost more than €6 per kilo.’

Alexandre Penet-Chardonnet, a small producer with vineyards in the Montagne de Reims grands crus of Verzy and Verzenay says the price is ‘around €5.85 for grand cru Noir’.

At Champagne Mailly, the grand cru co-operative, managing director Jean-François Preau put the increase in prices for grand cru material at ‘around 5%’.

David Hesketh MW, managing director of Laurent-Perrier UK, said, ‘We are going to have to pass on the increase in the cost of grapes this time round. Not to do so would make our business unsustainable, we absorbed the cost increases last year because of the state of the market.’

UK retailers for the most part refuse to be drawn on the subject of price rises. Tesco spokeswoman Laura Jewell said, ‘This is not a new situation, but similar to last year. Any cost increases from the producers will also need to be put in the context of a potential 7.5% increase in duty, which will put further pressure on retail prices.’

Written by Giles Fallowfield

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