Champagne tastes change in Australia

The love affair with Champagne in Australia isn’t just growing, our palate is rapidly evolving according to the latest data from Comité Champagne. 

Champagne exports to the Australian market broke records in 2022, reaching an unprecedented 10.5 million bottles. This figure is up by 6% when compared to 2021 and has overtaken all previous records. As a result, Australia is currently ranked as the 6th largest export market for Champagne in the world – in both volume and value.

The Brut Non-Vintage style remains the most popular category of Champagne in Australia and makes up 88% of all exports.

Analysis shows that all Champagne categories grew in volume when compared to 2021 including Rosé and Vintage Champagne however, there are a few notable developments.

“The Champagne shipments to Australia in 2022 show that we are a dynamic and evolving market for Champagne,” Director of the Champagne Bureau Australia John Noble said.

“It has become clear that adventurous Australian consumers are searching for some of the lesser known and more boutique styles of Champagne that are now becoming available.”

While Australia was late to the pink bubbles party, it is finally toasting their appeal. Rosé wines also stood out in the 2022 export results, representing 4.4% of volumes (up 0.7 points), with 92,000 additional bottles shipped.

Australia embrace low-dosage Champagne

One of the key trends that is emerging in Australia is demand for lower dosage Champagne – driven by on-premise venues and professional sommeliers. This style of Champagne cuvée has between zero and six grams of sugar per litre added as a ‘dosage’ at the final point of a Champagne wine’s production.

A Champagne cuvée with lower dosage is often described as ‘lighter, drier and fresher’ and is becoming the style of Champagne recommended in restaurants for its adaptability when it comes to gastronomy.

Paolo Saccone (above), director of wine at Etymon Projects, said the lower-dosage trend is growing at the group’s venues – The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar, Loulou Bistro and Tiva.

“We have noticed more guests asking about lower dosage Champagnes,” he said. “There’s a general growing preference for dryer styles of wine and also people are becoming much more knowledgeable about their wine.

“Lower dosage Champagnes offer excellent versatility when pairing with food and can complement delicate cheeses, seafood and even some desserts.”

Boutique Champagnes on the rise

While there’s more awareness of lower dosage Champagne, it’s still a relatively small part of the overall Champagne demand that Saccone is seeing. Another emerging trend is for patrons to explore boutique Champagnes.

“The Charles Grand Brasserie’s 100+ strong Champagne list highlights a number of incredible boutique and lesser-known Champagne houses,” he said.

“The artisanal production methods and emphasis on quality over quantity resonates with guests who appreciate the craftsmanship, attention to detail, and story behind these smaller, family-owned Champagne houses.

“There’s an appetite for wines that express a sense of place, reflecting the specific vineyard sites and unique terroir of the Champagne region. Boutique producers often prioritise terroir-driven winemaking practices, highlighting the nuances of their vineyards and resulting in wines with distinct character and personality.

“Our sommelier team also have an influential role in shaping our guests’ preferences and introducing them to new and exciting wines. Their expertise and recommendations can inspire consumers to explore lesser-known Champagne producers and styles that might not have been on their radar before.”

Demand for big name Champagne still strong in Australia

Saccone said it’s important to note that while the interest in boutique Champagnes is growing, the larger, well-established Champagne houses still dominate the market.

“However, the evolving consumer trends and increasing interest in unique and artisanal wines suggest that there is a growing market for boutique Champagnes among enthusiasts who are seeking new experiences and the expression of individuality in their wine choices,” he said.

Because The Charles has a very large, but highly curated wine list, it has found it easy to address this diversification in Champagne appreciation.

“It means we can both support smaller growers as well as the larger, well-established Champagne houses,” he said. “It’s then up to our guest – if they’re interested in exploring, our sommeliers can help guide them.”

Rise in Champagne & food pairing

Saccone said Australians were increasingly pairing Champagne with food. Across The Charles and Loulou, the most popular Champagnes are well-known houses Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, and Moet & Chandon.

“These Champagnes are classic blends from some of the top vineyards in Champagne and so match well with pretty much all the dishes that we serve,” he said.

“The goal when pairing Champagne with food is to find combinations that bring out the best in both creating a harmonious and enjoyable dining experience. My tips for pairing Champagne and food are:

His tips for Champagne and food pairing are:

  • Look for dishes that can benefit from the refreshing acidity of Champagne, such as oysters, seafood, creamy sauces, or dishes with tangy or acidic components.
  • Consider intensity – lighter Champagne styles, such as Blanc de Blancs or non-vintage Brut, pair well with lighter dishes like salads, sushi, or delicate seafood. Richer and more complex Champagnes, like vintage or Prestige Cuvées, can stand up to richer and more flavourful dishes like grilled meats, aged cheeses, or dishes with earthy or umami flavours.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and trust your own taste preferences. Champagne is a versatile wine, and the best pairings can vary based on personal preferences.
  • Seek a sommeliers advice, we have extensive knowledge and experience in pairing wines, including Champagne, with various dishes and can provide personalised recommendations based on your preferences.

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