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  Editorial Issue 137, February 2015   
Champagne: a Myth Fading Away?Champagne: a Myth Fading Away?  Contents 
Issue 136, January 2015 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 138, March 2015

Champagne: a Myth Fading Away?


 One of the wines evoking the highest charm in wine lovers, as well as in those who occasionally appreciate wines, is certainly Champagne. A wine having a unique charm, it is probably the most mentioned one in the history of recent centuries, as well as being important and fundamental wine of political and cultural events in many countries. Chronicles of past times in fact tell us that in formal, military and politic banquets, most of the pacts signed in those occasions where then celebrated with a glass of Champagne. Emblem of luxury, of well living and the highest elegance, finesse and class, the charm of Champagne is still alive today: its bubbles make every one dream as soon as they hear its name. Champagne is also the emblem of showing off richness, carelessly uncorked just to show others a supposed wealthy life or an important social influence.


 

 The end of the year is the time when books are usually closed, profits and sales are assessed, for wineries making sparkling wines it also represents the most important time of the year, in which the interest of consumers is focused of their products. It is no secret, in fact, the sale of sparkling wines is particularly concentrated at the end of the year holidays, when bottles are easily and frequently uncorked, even with thoughtlessness. This particular period, in which sales of sparkling wines are at their top, represents a moment of the year in which wineries making bubbles pay a lot of attention. Wine shops and malls offer a wide and considerable selection of these wines, in order to meet everyone's need, from very cheap wines to very expensive ones. Classic method sparkling wines are always part of the sale, offered in different ways and expressions, both in terms of quality and price.

 Champagne is one of French wines to be very successful all over the world: it is hard to find wine lovers who do not like it or do not appreciate it. A wine that, in general terms, is sold at a higher price than the average of the other sparkling wines, Champagne has always been a rival in virtually endless and reiterated challenges. Always used as a comparison element with all the other bubbles made in the world, by comparing it in terms of price and quality, everyone in the world wishes to dethrone this wine. Moreover, at the end of the year, thanks to the huge quantity of corks popped out in occasion of holidays, comparison is mainly focused on sales, a fierce competition fought to the very last cent. Quality of sparkling wines has undeniably grown up in the course of the last years and the qualitative distance with Champagne has been clearly shortened, while the number of good wines sold a more competitive prices grew up as well.

 Lately, Champagne seems to have a hard time in its homeland, because - they say - sales of French market are going down. It is not about a concrete decay, as Champagne sales outside France are going up. In other words, it seems today the famous French bubbles are mostly appreciated outside France. After a non good period - and, it must be said, this is something concerning the wine of every area - export figures of Champagne are increasing, in particular to the United States of America, United Kingdom and Australia. This time of crisis, it is undeniable, has influenced the sales of all wines - including Italian wines - and a good number of wineries got most of their profits from export sales than in their own countries. However, it sounds pretty strange Champagne - one of the greatest prides of France - is having a hard time in its own land.

 For the famous French bubbles things are changing even in Italy, a country where they have always had a good notoriety. It is hard to tell whether this is connected to economic factors and the lower availability of money in consumers, or it is because the quality of Italian sparkling wines has improved, as a matter of fact, sales of Champagne are going down. On this regard, it is now a long time the sales of French bubbles are being compared to those of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, the latter living a magic moment in terms of sales. It seems in 2014 sales of Prosecco in Italy increased remarkably, while leaving Champagne far behind, once being among the most successful bubbles in Italy. Moreover, Prosecco is living another magic moment in term or export, in particular to United States of America, Germany, Japan and United Kingdom.

 It must be said the two wines are very different one from each other, not only because of their respective production areas, but also for the grapes and wine making techniques used for both. I do not deny the remarkable and well deserved success of Prosecco, it is however undeniable the two wines express very different styles. The quality of many Champagnes is extraordinary and supreme, however the quality of bubbles made in other countries - including Italy - has increased as well, therefore shortening the distance with the famous French classic method wine. In other words, in the course of the last years, quality of bubbles available in shelves has remarkably increased, with a good differentiation in terms of price as well, and it was pretty predictable this would have had a direct impact on Champagne sales. I never liked competitions fought to the last bubble: I am aware of the fact each wine and each territory have quality - for better or for worse - unrepeatable elsewhere and in other wines. Each wine is a world on its own. I therefore am loyal to my passion for good Champagne, nevertheless, loyal to all the good bubbles made in Italy, something getting better and better and happening since many years now. I am also aware emotions generously given by a wine cannot be found in others and vice versa.

Antonello Biancalana






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  Editorial Issue 137, February 2015   
Champagne: a Myth Fading Away?Champagne: a Myth Fading Away?  Contents 
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