31 July, 2000

News July 2005

  • 01.07.2005: Pernod Ricard has received a "go" from the American competition authorities to take over the British group, Allied Domecq. The Americans thus follow the EU, that last weeek accepted the take-over. Now the Canadians has their say too.

  • 04.07.2005: 99,8 percent of the shareholders of the group Allied Domecq voted yes to be taken over by the French Pernod Ricard group, that with the purchase moves to become the secondbiggest group of wine and spirits worldwide. Price: 10,7 billion euros.

  • 08.07.2005: Winegrowers have dozens of strangely looking equipment and now one more has arrived. The new invention is called Agraflyre, and it could become important in Champagne. The machine can perform the rather intensive manual work of early summer, that consists of raising the threads in the rows, put new stems back behind the threads and put plastic clips to keep the thread together. The system currently works at 150 winegrowers in Champagne and is tested in other big French wineareas and in Spain and Schwitzerland too, writes the regional newspaper l'Union. Read more about how Agraflyre works here

  • 08.07.2005: The chairman of the board of the champagnehouse Laurent-Perrier, Bernard de Nonancourt, continues as rank-and-file member of the board. His successor is Maurice de Kervénoaël. Bernard de Nonancourt has been in front of Laurent-Perrier - based in Tours-sur-Marne - since 1949. The Nonancourt family still owns 56,08 percent of the shares of the company, that apart from Laurent-Perrier itself also comprises the brands Salon, Delamotte, De Castellane, Jeanmaire, Oudinot and Beaumet. Laurent-Perrier is today number three worldwide when it comes to value, not number of bottles.

  • 14.07.2005: The French Ministry of Agriculture has allowed winegrowers in the city Colmar in Alsace to use genetically modified wine. The purpose is to investigate if this kind of wine is more resistant to the disease fanleaf virus, that reduces the yield very much. The organisation Terre et Vin du Monde, with members from Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Spain, Sicity and others, is against the attempt. More about the virus at INRA

  • 28.07.2005: Several of the big champagnehouses have had good sales on minibottles in a young and cool design. In the last year the trendy bottles have sold for a value of five million dollars in the USA, says American poll company AC Nielsen. A growth of 25 percent. Pommery was the first with "Pop", others have followed in the successful footpaths. This summer the very blue and pink minis of Nicholas Feuillatte, One Four, has made it into just about all the magazines. Laurent-Perrier, Heidsieck & Co. and Moët et Chandon have all joined the minitrend.

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  • 30 July, 2000

    Financier wants Taittinger back

    The ink is hardly dry on the sales agreement of American Starwood Capitals purchase of the Societé du Louvre, before rumours have it that a new sale is just around the corner.

    In yesterdays edition of Le Figaro one of the main players, the Belgian financier Albert Frere, confirms that he considers buying the Taittinger-champagne back. Only weeks after Taittinger, Baccarat-crystals and a hotel-empire were all up for sale because the same Albert Frere wanted his money out of the Societé du Louvre.

    Now the financier says, that he with the Peugeot-family, who owned seven percent of the shares in Taittinger before the sale last week, is ready for at new bid on the prestigeous champagnehouse. On top of that the a-family is welcome to join forces, he says. The family has since the sale hinted that it is interested to continue with the champagne. A spokeswoman has to The Times confirmed that the family only sold the champagnebusiness because it was to complicated to split it from the rest of their activities.

    The world of big finance may seem as inscrutable as this years sky in july in Champagne.

    Another big house, Louis Roederer, is also mentioned as a possible buyer. Pernod Ricard, that recently has bought Allied Domecq and with it also Mumm and Perrier-Jouët and thus is back in Champagne, also examines the possibilities. But like the management of Louis Roederer the manager declines to comment on the speculations.

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    25 July, 2000

    Now Taittinger is American

    The race for Taittinger is over. Or rather for the entire group, the Societé du Louvre. The american Starwood Capital Group LLC was the one that finally threw the necessary 1,2 billion euro on the table.

    The former Franch group comprises apaort from the Taittinger-champagne the luxury-hotel Le Crillon on the Place de la Concorder in the very heart of Paris, 13 other hotels in the same class and the budgethotel chains Campanile and Première Classe. (Why do you just know that when something calls itself "first class" it is anything but?)

    Almost straight after its new purchase of the second biggest hotelgroup in Europe, Starwood announced the champagne Taittinger up for sale once again.

    The house of Taittinger has existed since Pierre Taittinger in 1931 bought the rather unknown but 200 years old Fourneaux, and later developed it into one of the ten biggest houses with a sales in 2004 of 390.000 boxes.

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    19 July, 2000

    First report on vendange is good

    Pinot Meunier ved Loisy-en-Brie, juli 2005.

    The grapes are pretty. We entirely agree, but it is always great to hear that the authorities in their first, official reports share your humble opinion. After all based on just a few hectares, a tiny drop in the immense sea of wine in this region.

    But the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne), the official speaking tube of the united champagnebusiness, describes the average picture at the moment like this:

    • Plenty but normal amounts of grapes.
    • Pretty and wellplaced berries.
    • Expected vendange between September 15th and 20th.
    The vendange 2004 was so extensive, that even retirees could not think of any other vendange to equal the immense quantities seen. This year the wine carries more moderate amounts of grapes.

    Average quantities
    In average the CIVC expect around 14.000 kilos of grapes per hectare, which is just a little more than necessary, since you are entitled to sell 12.000 kiloes of grapes per hectare of land. Last year the plants carried around 25.000 amazing kilos per hectare.

    So far what will develop into this years crop, has made well.

    • The dangerous frost in the spring has only killed a very minor part, says the CIVC.
    • The widespread drought in the spring has only had minor impacts for the wine, that normally does not demand much when it comes to water. The wine has managed with what it could find in the underground chalk layer, that sucks the water like a sponge.
    How deep the threats of the summer - different diseases, pests and hailstorms - will dig into the potential, is still to early to talk about.

    According to the CIVC mildew has been seen, but not yet on a level that can not be treated. Also botrytis has been observed.

    Our Pinot Meunier-grapes at Loisy-en-Brie develops nicely.

    Everything can change
    Much - not to say all - can still change. The informations from the CIVC only states, what can be said at the moment. A heatwawe at the same level as in 2003 for instance can speed up the date of the vendange with several weeks in a short while.

    This first report from Champagne is different from that from the rest of France. There the winegrowers have started to prepare themselves for another huge harvest.

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    08 July, 2000

    Lanson up for sale

    With 700 spare million euros you could consider to acquire you own house of champagne. Actually the second biggest in the world is now entirely up for sale. The name is Lanson International.

    First the bank, Caisse nationale des Caisses, put its 44 percent of the shares up for sale. Next the family Mora joined forces with its majority share of 56 percent as well, so now the interested - and deep-pocketed - buyer can get the whole company.

    The price anyway is estimated by the current owners in the light of the estimated price of Taittinger (500 million euros) alså currently up for sale. The major difference between the two companies is that where Taittinger owns 280 hectares of wine, Lanson International buys all its grapes from winegrowers. The family estimates the stocks to about 450 million euros.

    A lot of stories on the Lanson-sales has made the management put up a series of meetings for the suppliers, without which Lanson would not have anything to put in their bottles. According to regional newspaper l'Union the responsible managers assured that there will not again be a situation, where the suppliers do not get the payment on time as happened in 2004.

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    07 July, 2000

    Lanson partly up for sale

    It is good time for trading in Champagne. Recently Pernod-Ricard achieved to get champagnehouses Mumm and Perrier-Jouët as a part of buying Allied Domecq. Since first Taittinger, later Lanson International has been put up for sale.

    It is the French bank Caisse d'Epargne, who - under certain circumstances - wants to sell its 44 percent big part of the shares after just one year owning them.

    Last year the price was 38 million euros.

    With brands Lanson, Besserat de Bellefon, Alfred Rothschild and Massé et Gauthier, Lanson International is the secondbiggest group in Champagne. 18 million bottles are sold in 80 countries each year.

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    06 July, 2000

    (Too much) hullabaloo in the coop

    Strictly spoken it all comes down to a bit of sugar and some numbers that ought not to be there. But when the third ingredient of the cocktail is champagne, keywords such as multimillion fraud, loss of prestige and policeinvestigation pops up along.

    Three of the chief executives from the cooperative Champagne Esterlin - the chairman, the manager and the cavist - seem to have been just a bit too entrepreneurial in the past years. The authorities in Chalons-en-Champagne at the moment investigate the following three counts:

  • Ordinary champagne without year were sold for more money as vintage champagne.
  • Extra sugar has been added to the unfermented wine.
  • Funding of the cooperative seems to have financed the purchase of other compagnies to the benefit of two of the involved persons.

    Exceptional matters in the house of Esterlin, founded in 1948, who as late as 1995 established its administration in a stately villa on the prestigious avenue de Champagne in Épernay. It is said to be the most valuable in the world due to the contents of the deep cavea under as gilt-edged names as Moët et Chandon, Mercier and many more. And Esterlin...

    Bad for the reputation
    The false vintage champagnes - and not the least: the extra sugar - has unbeatable made it into one of the hottest conversation topics at the gardenparties of the area this month.

    Everybody - almost - seem to have an opinion, since they all connect with at least one vigneron, cavist or wineworker. People who all make their living from a local product, more expensive than other sparkling wines. One reason is its great reputation.

    A reputation that does seem to get some of a blow when three of the executives of the business are under investigation for something as simple as cheating and fraud.

    Esterlin has confirmed that the cooperative at the moment is being investigated, but does not want to comment further. All three are released on bail.

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