Dry Times Ahead

North America is now said to be entering the early stages of a Champagne shortage which could last for several years.  There are a number of reasons why this is happening.  First, there are the supply chain issues that I discussed in my December 31, 2021 blog, Wine Shipping Delays. This problem was caused by the effects of COVID-19 on the shipping industry, which has resulted in deliveries taking two or three times longer than normal.

Photo credit: https: TheGrapeGeeks.com

Complicating things further has been the fluctuations in the demand for Champagne.  Because of the COVID-19 related lockdowns of 2020, demand fell by about 25% but rose back up again by the end of that year.  The upward trend continued throughout 2021 with demand returning to pre-pandemic levels as consumers were willing to spend more to wine and dine at home since they were often prevented from dining out at fine restaurants.

However, the Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), who regulates how much Champagne may be produced each year, in response to the initial reduction in demand, reduced Champagne output but did not react to the resurgence in demand at the end of that year.  The effects of the reduced Champagne production won’t be felt until this vintage reaches the market in a few years’ time. Ironically, the organization whose purpose it is to protect the Champagne industry inadvertently caused significant financial damage.

While consumer demand for Champagne was expanding throughout 2021, France’s Champagne region was experiencing extreme weather issues.  In March there was scorching heat that burned many of the vines.  This was followed by frost that destroyed about 30% of the vines.  Finally, there were torrential rains during June and July that resulted in mildew coating many of the remaining vines.  As a result, the 2021 grape harvest was the smallest in many decades.

Champagne production won’t be returning to normal anytime soon.  Shortages are expected to last through until at least 2025.

These availability problems will provide growth opportunities for producers of other sparkling wines including Italy’s Prosecco, Spain’s Cava as well as many North American varieties. Canadian options include, among others, 13th Street Cuvée Brut Sparkling Rosé, Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut Sparkling, Henry Of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Rosé Brut VQA and Château des Charmes Brut Sparkling.

Sláinte mhaith

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