Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Loire bubbles in the Nouvelle Republique

Bottles of Crémant de Loire rosé in the cellars of Langlois-Chateau

An article on the success of Loire sparkling wines in the Sunday edition of the Nouvelle Republique – unfortunately rather long on poetic gas and short on facts. The headline cites rapidly expanding sales but gives no details. An average price of 5-6 € in the supermarkets with 10€ as a maximum price virtually the only figures given along with praise for its rapport-qualité-prix.

With 5-6€ as an average price it is difficult to see how the producer makes much money or can afford to take the measures necessary to produce quality sparkling wine. Strip out sales tax at 19.6% and you come down close to 4€ on a 5€, include the retail’s margin, the cost of the bottle, capsule, cork and the minimum of nine months sur latte and how much is left to cover the base wine?

Furthermore the permitted yields for sparkling Saumur or Vouvray are significantly lower than the very generous yields allowed in Champagne. 65 hl/ha is permitted for Montlouis, Saumur, Touraine and Vouvray, while for Crémant de Loire it is only 50 hl/ha.

One of the tunnels in the cellars of Langlois-Chateau

Once you start looking at the price of the top Loire sparkling wines then the price is substantially higher than the 5-6€ supermarket average. A bottle of Bouvet-Ladubay’s Crémant de Loire is 9.98€ from their site, Langlois-Chateau’s is 11.40€ with Bouvet’s Cuvée Trésor at 14.50€.

One encouraging sign is that for the 2007/2008 campaign the sales of Crémant finally overtook those of appellations like Saumur and Vouvray. The Crémant de Loire appellation was created in 1975, so it has taken more than 30 years for it to become the established leading Loire sparkling wine appellation with its stricter rules – lower yields, hand picking into small cases, less juice allowed to be extracted from 100 kilos of grapes and a longer minimum time sur latte.

The Crémant appellations in Alsace and Burgundy date from the same time and here they replaced the existing sparkling wine appellations. With just one regional sparking wine appellation, this enabled Alsace and Burgundy to both increase the quality and communicate a coherent message to consumers.

The Loire ought either to have done the same or to have tightened up the regulations for the other appellations, which would have boosted quality and made it possible to give a more convincing message about the overall quality of Loire sparkling wines.

No comments: