31 May, 2001

News May 2006

12.05.2006: The earnings of the house of Laurent-Perrier rose nine percent last year.

23.05.2006:Pernod Ricard wants to grow bigger on the global market of champagne. The pastis giant from Southern France, that last year acquired the brands Mumm and Perrier-Jouët with Allied Domecq, at the moment is the top four, but the ambition is to grow bigger. According to the manager of the Martell, Mumm and Perrier-Jouët-department of Pernod the objective is to make it to become second (currently held by Chanoine Boizel Champagne after buying Lanson International last year). Number one is a rather big step up: At the moment LVMH delivers 17,4 percent of the champagne drunk in the world. Pernod delivers a - in comparison - humble 3,3 percent.

23.05.2006: Reims Management School has decided to develop a professorship in champagne. The manager of the school, Francois Bonvalet, says, that the position is to be used to develop necessary research within the fields business strategy, marketing and consumer behaviour connected with the champagne business of the region. The bubbly industry directly emplys more than 10.000 people and annually sells for more than four billion euros. Known grandes marques such as Moët & Chandon, Krug, Pommery and Veuve Clicquot support the new institute financially.

25.05.2006: France is working intensely to move into the huge and growing market in China, said several ministers who participated in the Vinexpo-exhibition in Hong Kong according to the winemagazine Decanter. Apart from campaigns in supermarkets, the aim of which is to present French products for the Chinese consumers, the initiative also covers education, partnerships and help to plant vineyards on a experimental basis. The objective of all this is to increase the knowledge of French wine in China as the biggest market for wine in Asia, and with an import expected to double to two million boxes by 2010. The depressed French wineindustry is not alone, also the big houses in Champagne are extremely focused on the Asian markets because of their big potential.

25.05.2006: The house of Jacquart presented its latest prestige cuvée at the Vinexpo in Hongkong. It is called Katarina, and is is sold in a clear, voluptuous bottle with references to the Art Nouveau-style, popular during the Belle Epoque in the end of the 19. century. A time where some especially sinful places in Paris literally flowed with champagne. Katarina is a blend of 60 percent Pinot Noir, 35 percent Chardonnay and five percent Meunier and has matured seks years in the caves of Jacquart. Cuvée Katarina is described as fresh and youthful, with notes of white flowers, abricot and pear and with a very, long after-taste.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

30 May, 2001

Taittinger close to repurchase

The Taittinger-family is close to purchase the champagne activities of the same name in cooperation with the bank Credit Agricole Nord-Est. Thus write several international media after some local uneasiness at the prospect of a possible Indian ownership.

Instead, now it seems that several small and big organisations get, what they prefer. French ownership of French crown jewels - amongst them Patrick Le Brun, chairman of the independent winegrowers, several of his members deliver grapes to Taittinger, and the biggest trade union in France, CGT, that organises the communists amongst the wineworkers, have expressed their shared hope, that the family Taittinger will return as owners after an intermezzo of one year in the care of the American investment fund, Starwood Capital Group.
Tradition for international influence
Others has pointed out how it may seem a bit inappropriate that a foreign owner of a big champagnehouse sis not accepted, since the main part of the income comes from exports.

The chairman of the organisation of the champagnehouses, Yves Lombard, has mentioned how the very varied history of Champagne through several hundred years has always been rich on international influences.

Last the Belgian, Paul-Francois Vranken, has managed to manouvere his group from almost nothing to a position as one amongst five key groups in Champagne in just 30 years. Today Vranken thus controls the brand that carries his own name but on top of that also Demoiselle, Heidsieck Monopole, Charles Lafitte and Pommery.

Suitable bid for Starwood
Second round of acquiring Taittinger ended thursday last week with eight bids for the champagnehouse and its wineactivities in Bordelais, the Loire Valley and California.

A spokesman of Starwood, Laurent Perpère, says to International Herald Tribune, that three factors made the bid of the family Taittinger and Crédit Agricole Nord-Est the preferred one: The price, the timing and the simplicity of the proposed contract. The bank is prepared to take over the business straight away and with all riscs. Starwood hopes to finalize the deal by the end of June.

This means that the Spanish producer of sparkling wines, Freixenet, the champagnehouse of Thienot and the investment fund CVC are out of the game.

And so is United Breweries of course. The company, which is the world's third biggest producer of alcoholic beverages, will have to do with Kingfisher beer and the rest in its portfolio. Taittinger seems to remain French for the time being.

Uneasiness over Indian bid
What was by some seen as a possibility of achieving better foothold in the Indian market, others saw as a risk for the strict and expensive French AOC-system (Appellation d'Origine Controlée).

India does not acknowledge the regional protection of names, that the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) fights tooth and nail. This is why it would be problematic with an Indian ownership of Taittinger, the president of the CIVC, Bruno Paillard, put it earlier this month according to the French newsagency, AFP.

Also the economist, Nathalie Viet, has pinpointed the importance of understanding the French AOC-system. The special rules mean amongst other things, that grapes destined for champagne production are dealt with almost entirely manually, which makes them very expensive (in 2005 the average price was approximately five euros per kilo).

As an economist, madame Viet however also eyes the interesting perspective of an easier accesss to the Indian market with its several hundred million potential customers. A perspective, that chairman Le Brun sees as well. His members - the indenpendent winegrowers - normally do not have a lot of exports, but they deliver some of their grapes to houses such as Taittinger, who has a big export. More than 60 percent of Taittinger's 4,5 million bottles per year are sold abroad. And one of the growing markets at the moment is India.

French owners often preferred
But French often prefer, that French lighthouses remain French. Last year American Pepsicos attempt to takeover French Danone sparked such immense debate and even a law to secure that certain types of companies would remain French (Danone however not one of them, that would not be possible within the EU rules). This year another Indian giant, Mittal, has tried to purchase the steel giant Arcelor, which has been met with great hostility in France. Now a spokesperson of United Breweries hints that her company lost the battle of Taittinger for political reasons.

"The resistance has been there," she says to International Herald Tribune and refers to Lakshmi Mittals attempts - so far in vain - to buy Arcelor. In which way United Breweries (UB) more specifically has been prevented from buying Taittinger, she does not excactly say apart from the information that Starwood tried to put pressure on UB to raise its bid.

Starwood bought all activities of the family Taittinger last summer mainly to get hold of its hotel chains and the luxury hotel Le Crillon in downtown Paris.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

29 May, 2001

Lanson introduces World Cup champagne

Huge and foaming draught beers are likely to arrive in most memories before the fiery fizz on the surface of a glass of champagne, should you be asked to associate from foam to soccer or the other way around.

But champagne most certainly is represented at the World Cup coming up in just a few days. And it is even the fourth time, that the house of Lanson will introduce a speciel World Cup cuvée.

In 1998 the Rheims-bases company sold 700.000 bottles of the special soccer bubbly in 30 countries... it was - I wonder, does anyone apart from my (French) husband still remember that far? - the very year, where France became world champions.

Collecter's item in German colours
The soccer bottle is only for sale this year, and is equipped with a capsule in the German colours: Black, red and yellow.

The capsule - a little metal plate, kept in place on top of the cork by the muselet - is a mega collector's item. Therefore each type of chamapgne gets it's own capsule in order to maximize the total amount of possible capsules to collect. Read about the composition and tasting notes of the World Cup champagne here.

Lanson also participates in the soccer world on a more regular basis as partner with clubs such as Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, AC Milan, Olympique Marseille and Paris Saint Germain.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

02 May, 2001

200 vines in the ground

Bright blue April sky at our vineyard in Loisy-en-Brie.

A freezing cold last weekend of April is over, and almost 200 new Meunier-vines in the ground. This weekend boasts an icy wind, and even the sun has the power to warm well now, it cannot really force temperatures past 10 degrees Celsius. It is not often that it makes its way through the low and fleecy clouds.

The weather will not really shape well this year... 2006 still applies as the coldest spring within living memory.

The difference in the development of the Meunier and the Chardonnay is striking.

The vine grows despite the cold
However, even it is cold, the vines are still able to develop. Our Meunier-plants have not made it far beyond the pink point.

A couple of hundreds of Chardonnay, planted by mistake in the middle of the Meunier-vines, are further advanced as this variety develops earlier. They are about one week ahead and already unfolding the third and fourth leaves.

We have not yet - despite the cold - had frost in the night, but we are in the middle of the very fragile zone... close to zero... where frost can destroy a part of the potential crop of the year.

Alain manages to put almost 200 Meunier-vines in the ground during two busy days.

From cows to vines
Alain continues the work: Holes must be digged, good mould put into the holes and the soil around the little vine well placed and almost covering the plant to protect it the best way possible.

The quality of the soil is very uneven. It does become better as he works his way through the rows. From the yellow, sticky and hard clay of the first rows and into the looser silt (mix of sand and clay), that is both better and more easy to work.

This plot was a pasture for cows just one generation ago. The soil has never been worked through to make it more even, which explains the difference of quality.

It is our good luck that it has always been within the AOC-delimitation - that is as long as the AOC-Champagne has existed (1927) - and this is why it has been possible to plant vines here. Today a much better business than cows, but that was not the case when Alains's father had his cows here. Times change, and I find it thought-provoking how fast it actually has happened

My job is to unite, transport and put the protection.

New protection
The plastic protections is my department. I can work one and a half hours before my pregnant body wants to rest. Then I drive back to the farm of belle-mere to unite another 100 plastic gadgets.

The great thing about it is to work under a blue sky, with birds singing out loudly and sporadic rays of sunshine on your cheek. Late in April as we are the snails have now emerged, and the ground is dotted with little bulbous flowers known as pearl leek. It looks nice, and in its own way it contributes to my experience of wine growing as being closer related with gardening than with farming.

I may even begin to think that work under the blue sky of our Lord is a simple human right. Even this was a completely unknown phenomenon to me less than three years ago. The major part of 15 years I spend working at my desk in various offices.

My mother-in-law says that she never used these protection gadgets. They have been too time-consuming to prepare, I suppose, at least in a farm with both traditional farming and vineyards. It is likely that the practice has been different in pure vinefarms like the ones we find in Verzy.

As the weekend ends, we have only eight rows to finish. That is around 75 plants. Just enough to fill a workday of Alain during the week. But at least a long wished for and needed project in the vineyard will then be finally finished.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

Total fornyet parcel ved Soulières.

New plants in an old plot, Verzy.