There’s no better title than “Champagne Shortage” to get people worried. Although the title exaggerates, things aren’t as rosy as they could be for Champagne growers and enthusiasts.
Grey rot, mildew, late frosts, and hailstorms have wreaked havoc to the 2016 Champagne harvest. Decanter reports that the average yield is across the region of 7,000 to 7,500 kg of grapes per hectare of vineyard, which is well down on the 10,800 kg/ha maximum set by the Champagne authorities in July. Some growers have even reported losses of up to 70%.
Reportedly this has been the most complicated growing season since 1956. Yet most Champagne houses have reserves to fall back on or will be aided by family, co-operatives, négociants or their bank. The next season, however, will be important for growers and for some it might even be a make or break season.
However, Jean-Marie Barillère, president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne told Decanter that he does not expect any shortages of Champagne for the next five or six years. Nonetheless, prices will still rise according to Mr. Barillère.
“As you know, demand for sparkling wines continues to grow, and Champagne production is limited by definition (Appellation of Origin). As there is a lot of improvement in terms of quality, particularly in farming, I expect continuing price increases for the next years.”
So it seems that we won’t see less Champagne on the shelves just yet, but it might have a higher price tag. If you don’t want to spend more for Champagne but still like to enjoy a glass of bubbly, there’s plenty of equally palatable alternatives such as Prosecco, Cava, Franciacorta, Moscato, Crémant and new world sparkling wine.