The Comité Champagne has unveiled the sector’s plan for the next decade at Vinexpo Paris and its ambition to turbocharge future growth.
“It is not just a question of responding to the changing demands of consumers; it is a question of ensuring the productivity and sustainability of the Champagne vineyard; of designing and promoting a viticulture that is in balance with the ecosystem, to produce a sufficient quantity of quality grapes,” said Maxime Toubart, President of Syndicat général des vignerons
and Co-President of the Comité Champagne.
“This is what we aim to achieve and the course we have set for ourselves.”
Results for 2022 saw 326 million bottles shipped (+ 1.6% compared to 2021). It was the highest annual shipment figure in 15 years, which Comité Champagne said was proof of the dynamism of the global Champagne market, both in terms of volume and value. The value of Champagne shipments also passed the six million euro threshold (approximately $9.4 million AU) for the first time.
Champagne made a quick recovery from the shock of the 2020 health crisis. As President of the Union des Maisons de Champagne and co-president of the Comité Champagne David Chatillon noted in January: “Champagne, as the supreme wine of celebrations, had been the natural choice of the world’s consumers as they rejoiced at the end of lock-downs and rediscovered a taste for parties, for going out and travelling.”
The keys to success
Comité Champagne said its vineyards were fragile and subject to the vagaries of the climate. It noted that its members were seeing the development of diseases that cause the vines to wither, such as flavescence dorée which is threatening to become the phylloxera of the 21st century.
Champagne’s winegrowers and houses are facing these new challenges with a new research, development and innovation centre to be completed by 2025. This will increase the area of the existing laboratory by 40%. New state-of-the-art equipment will include a new, redesigned vat house/experimental cellar, a new tasting room, twice as large, and a new one-hectare experimental facility.
To ensure the availability and quality of its wines in the long term, Champagne is experimenting with new grape varieties, researching ways to combat the various forms of vineyard decline, defining new soil maintenance methods and new oenological strategies –both to anticipate the effects of climate change and also to satisfy the imperatives of agro-ecology.
Moving towards net zero carbon by 2050
Comité Champagne said priorities for the Champagne industry today are the fight against climate change and the adaptation to new conditions.
The sector is particularly proud of the results it has already achieved: 100% treatment of wine effluents and more than 90% of industrial waste; 20% reduction in the carbon footprint per bottle since 2003; 63% of wine-growing areas now environmentally certified (objective 100% certified by 2030).
In 2003, Champagne was the first wine region in the world to carry out a carbon footprint assessment. Today it is accelerating the implementation of its carbon plan towards Net Zero Carbon by 2050, with a substantial reduction in emissions (-75% in 2050), the development of carbon sinks, and, as a last resort, by offsetting unavoidable emissions.
But this plan must also reinforce the economic and social ambitions of Champagne. These ambitions include improving the resilience of the sector, its workforce (which are essentially fixed in place) and the overall attractiveness of the region.
Strengthening the future of the Comité Champagne
Champagne has offices in 10 of its largest export markets, including Australia, which are responsible for promoting the appellation in their respective territories.
This network of Champagne embassies will expand to represent the Champagne experience all around the world.
One of the founding roles of the Comité Champagne is the protection of the Champagne appellation, in defence of a heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Today, thanks to the daily action of the Comité Champagne, the Champagne appellation is recognised and protected in more than 121 countries.
It will be the task of the industry plan to continue the fight against abusive uses of the appellation, which are becoming increasingly numerous as new media and new technologies emerge.
“The investment we make embodies the social responsibility of our sector. It is an absolute priority to ensure that Champagne continues to be recognised as an exceptional wine, supported by a united, responsible and committed industry. Our plan gives new impetus for new ambitions, for our appellation and our terroir,” said Chatillon.