Champagne shortage hits Australia as the world’s biggest producer declares ‘we are running out of stock’
- Champagne could be harder to find on Australian shelves this festive season
- Increase in demand had coincided with a low production year in French region
- Wine sellers are encouraging people to look at lesser known and local versions
Australians looking to pop a bottle of champagne over Christmas and New Year’s might find their favourite brands missing from shelves as a shortage hits.
Popular labels like Bollinger, Veuve Clicquot and Moet could be affected as a global surge in demand combines with supply chain issues and a low production year in France to create the perfect shortage storm.
Phillipe Schaus, the chief executive of one of the world’s largest producers Moet Hennessey, declared in November that the company could sell out of its entire champagne stock before 2023.
‘We are running out of stock on our best champagnes. As people are coming out of Covid there’s been pent up demand for enjoyment and travelling,’ he explained.
A champagne shortage is hitting Australia with an increase in demand coinciding with a low production year
The boss of Moet Hennessy’s parent company LMVH, Jean-Jacques Guiony, said that in contrast to tightening households budgets caused by soaring inflation, the demand for luxury goods only seemed to be increasing.
Sales were strong in the previous quarter across most of Europe and ‘above all in the US,’ he said.
The drive in demand has coincided with a poor grape harvest in the Champagne region of France – where the authentic bubbly must be made to keep its Champagne name.
Heavy frosts in winter damaged plants before rain and inconsistent sunshine over summer caused a further mildew issue.
General Manager of Champagne Château de Boursault, Alex Fringhian, said he usually harvested about 10,000kg of grapes per hectare in a good year and 8,500kg to 9,500kg in a mediocre one.
But this year he managed to harvest only around 5,000kg per hectare.
‘The mildew started by drying out the leaves, then by attacking the grapes,’ he told Le Parisian.
‘In the middle of the vineyards, completely wilted bunches are still visible. All the plots have been impacted.’
The result is countries like Australia, with long freight journeys and which are not the key export markets for French champagne makers, are getting less shipments of the drink.
Experts are encouraging Australians to look at other brands of sparking wine that may not have the champagne label but where they could find a hidden gem
‘The champagne shortage is real,’ Emperor Champagne chief executive Kyla Kirkpatrick told WA Today.
‘Leading into Christmas, consumption has been bigger than supply on certain products, so we’ve been allocating customers, rationing the big brands and trying to move them to other products.’
She added that economic downturns generally resulted in an increase in consumption of alcoholic drinks, which had only been heightened by two years of Covid lockdowns.
Wine and champagne consumption in Australia jumped 16.5 per cent between 2020 and 2021.
Ms Kirkpatrick encouraged champagne lovers to look towards other brands of sparkling wine that may not have the champagne label, but were still tasty enough to enjoy on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.