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« SuperSniffer | Main | Reminder: It's Wine Lent »

15 September 2006

Poll: Champagne Truth

Ccork I love Champagne.  You love Champagne.  It's difficult not to be beguiled by the stuff.  However, occasionally, I feel a bit let down by the bubbles.  I know bringing up this topic may make me a wine heretic.  Don't get me wrong; if I only had one mixed case of wine on a desert island, 2 of the 12 wines would be Champagne - Krug and Salon Le Mesnil.

I was thrilled to discover that the theme for WineBloggingWednesday #25 was Champagne (the real deal, from France).  I tracked down a new-to-me marque:  Lenoble.  For $55, I took home Lenoble's 1996 Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs.  What could be better than sipping vintage bubbly on a rainy Wednesday night?

The wine was good.  That was the problem.  Technically, it was well-balanced, good flavors, yadda, yadda.  However, I just spent a fifty-five bucks.  Shouldn't it be really good? Shouldn't I be lying in bed searching for a cigarette?  Or, at a minimum, shouldn't I have heard one or two angels singing?  The bubbly was good, not great.  That makes me uneasy.

When I first began learning about wine, the following caveat was drilled into my head from a number of "experts":

Spending more money doesn't necessarily equate to better wine.  However, a notable exception is Champagne.  The relationship between price and quality is rock-solid.

The more Champagne I taste, the more I find the above statement to be baloney.  I love the bubbles, but I trust them less and less each day.

What do you think?

The price of Champagne is generally..

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Comments

Marcus

Hi Beau,

Well taken this point you make. Personally, I blamed the state for my inability to post with the best of 'em for WBW 25: I ranted that Quebec's government-run liquor agency is out of line pricing their cheapest Champagne at $45. Maybe Champagne itself sets its products at a price that is too high.

I do realize the process involved in making the stuff is quite vigorous and drives up the cost though.

beau

Indeed. Part of me understands the high prices - as you say it's expensive to make. I am curious however to know the profit margin differences between Champagne and still wine.

Jared S.

This post finally prompted me to post my observations about Champagne and pricing:

http://vineview.grandcruclasses.com/2006/09/champagne_is_no.html

Bottom line? Champagne is certainly expensive, but it is not (generally) overpriced. It costs more to produce than still wine and that is reflected in the price. But no one is getting robbed - unless they're spending $250/bottle. :)

Whit Stevens

Aren't Cremant, Cava and the like also made via the Méthode Champenoise? If Champagne is expensive to make, shouldn't Cava and Cremant also be fairly expensive to make? I'm guessing Champagne is expensive due to the scarcity power of the producers, not production costs.

Full disclosure: I know nothing about Champagne.

beau

Hi Whit -

Indeed the methods are quite similar, if not identical in some cases. However, I think the justification for Champagne prices has to do with the reserve wines - many of which are decades old; and the art of the blend (done by supposedly super-talented blending folks in each Champagne house).

I concede that these things would add to the cost. However, I do think part of the Champagne price tag is due to its (in many cases well-deserved) reputation.

Whit Stevens

Agreed, my initial post was a bit overstated... and certainly vintage Champagne needs to be marked up some to cover storage costs.

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With a certain degree of confidence we can assert that the champagne as the type of the original wine, which is characterized by specific attributes - shot at opening the bottle, foaming in the glass through an intense selection of bubbles of carbon dioxide, long-term "game"

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