21 June, 2002

The prices are ricing

Champagne sells, even very well, and the prices follow. The top level is not yet reached. Especially if the giant in Champagne, Moët Hennessy, will act like they now talk.

The average price of a bottle of champagne at the moment - without taxes - is at 12,83 euros. Not much, if you think about the prices of champagne around the world. But only very few of them cost lots here in Champagne. It is the local taxes in for instance Scandinavia, that puts up the prices even more.

Grapes are the bottleneck
In Champagne the main bottleneck is the grapes. To find for grapes to be able to produce and sell more bottles. The big champagne houses, that sell 70 percent of the bottles for export, owns only 10 percent of the vineyards. Therefore they must buy most of their grapes from the winegrowers.

In the past the big houses and big winegrowers produced almost all the champagne of the area. In the last years many small winegrowers have begun to produce their own brands of champagne and sell it. Often much cheaper. For instance in our village in Verzy many of the local winegrowers sell their Grand Cru champagnes for about 13 euros per bottle. The price of the grapes make up almost half of that price (ex tax).

These are prices that are almost ridiculous according to Moët Hennessy. The leader of their champagne department, Jean-Marie Barrillière, has declared a sort of economical war about the grapes. In May he said to the local paper, l'Union, that he does not want to be the nice boy of the class anymore.

And since he represents the giant of Champagne, he also has the money to pay, what is needed, to get hold of more grapes. It shall be interesting to see, if the prices of grapes will grow so much during the next grapeharvest, that the growers will sell more grapes and produce less of their own champagnes.

In 2006 the grapes cost about five euro per kilo, which makes them the most expensive grapes in the world.

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