Australia’s passion for Champagne has hit new heights, with the Champagne Bureau revealing imports have increased by 16.5% in volume and 26.8% in value over the past year.
It follows Comite Champagne reporting nearly 10 million bottles of champagne were exported to Australia in 2021, an increase of 1.3 million bottles year on year. Of the 320 million bottles of French bubbles exported across the globe, Australia was ranked the sixth largest export market by volume.
Champagne has gone from being a special-occasion drop to an ‘everyday indulgence’. Australians are consuming fizz at restaurants and at home, they’re even taking it to casual barbecues.
“The perception of what a celebration is has undergone a paradigm shift,” Champagne Bureau director John Noble told Good Food.
“People used to claim there was a champagne ‘season’ linked to horse racing and the warmer months, but that went out the window when smaller occasions came into focus. When lockdowns eased, catching up with friends became more special.
“Aussies like to make a good impression, we like quality things, and we love the taste of champagne,” Noble said.
“But it’s our realness that underpins who we are. It doesn’t have to be hoity-toity – you could be sitting around a barbecue after a couple of glasses of champagne or ordering a bottle at a restaurant. No matter where you are, it signifies fun.”
The global champagne sector was hit hard by COVID-19, when figures were down by 18%, and Comite Champagne’s chief executive Charles Goemaere credits the industry’s comeback to a dynamic export market, with Australia one of its biggest saviours.
Australians popped a record number of Champagne corks during COVID-19, with the IRI National Liquor Read Market Edge report showing the category was up 40%. Billecart-Salmon saw its sales increase by more than 60% in Australia in 2020, while sales surged by 27% for Pernod Ricard’s Champagne brands Maison Perrier-Jouët and Maison Mumm.
Australian taste for Champagne also premiumised. In 2020, the value of the Australian market jumped 40 per cent to €160 million ($237 million).
In 2021, Australia was the only market in the world to show any significant growth (11.2%).
Fortunately, the impact of COVID-19 appears to have eased, with luxury brands are reporting a strong return to pre-pandemic sales.
“We bounced back plus 80 per cent,” Stephen Leroux, managing director of Charles Heidsieck, recently told The Age about the House’s post COVID-19 lockdown sales.
Last year 304 champagne brands were imported to Australia, up from 261. While brut non-vintages still make up 91.2% of the Australian market, consumers are becoming more adventurous.
One of the newest arrivals on Australian shores is Champagne Tsarine. Launched in Australia just 18 months ago, Tsarine comes from the world’s second-oldest Champagne house, Chanoine Frères, which was founded in Reims in 1730.
The Tsarine range is available at Dan Murphy’s and selected BWS, RRP: Tsarine Premium NV $48.50 & Tsarine Rose NV $68.90.