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Wine Spectator: Champagne Grapples With Covid And Slumping Global Demand

September 14, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting global recession have been especially hard on Champagne. Domestic sales have plunged as France’s GDP has contracted by 13.8%, and exports to most major markets have also slumped. The long-term forecast is foggy, as restrictions on social gathering and dining continue.

As of July, shipments were down more than 25%, or about 3.3 million cases from the same period last year, according to Jean-Marie Barillère, president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne (UMC), the trade group for Champagne houses, and co-president of the Comité Champagne (CIVC). Several countries, including France, have seen an increased number of Covid cases as restrictions have been eased and people venture out more. “It’s very difficult to know what will happen in November and December,” said Barillère. The holidays are traditionally Champagne’s biggest sales quarter.

Still, producers are seeing signs of hope. June and July have inspired measured optimism. “It hit us in March, April, and May, but we’re recovering progressively. Our own sales are up in June and July compared to June and July last year,” said Charles Philipponnat, president of Maison Philipponnat. “We’ve been selling allocations of Clos des Goisses to the usual customers.”

“The big question is whether we will make up for the lost sales from March, April, and May,” Philipponnat added. “The answer is no. How much will it take before we sell as many bottles as we sold in 2018 or 2019? The answer is I don’t know. Probably two or three years.”

“In all of the families, growers, and négociants, there are those who are doing pretty well and those who are battling,” said Barillère. “It’s a question of their markets. The négociant who sells to the supermarkets, it’s going well. If they sell to restaurants, they’re suffering.” Wine Spectator has the full story.

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