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UK: Price Of Champagne Set To Drop

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CHAMPAGNE prices could plunge as low as £10 a bottle due to over-production in French vineyards.

Industry insiders say the glut will see prices slashed by Christmas – providing a bit of festive sparkle for cash-strapped Brits.

Robert Joseph, of Meininger’s Wine Business International, said: “There is going to be copious cheap champagne around in December because there simply is a lot of it.

“We’re not going to see £5 champagne but it’s not impossible that we’ll see £10 and £15 bottles.

“But there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a good buy. Moet & Chandon is not going to be discounted.”

Vineyard owners in France have already been hit hard by the recession, with people reluctant to splash out on luxuries like bubbly.

They have agreed to slash grape harvests by a third this year – leaving the surplus fruit to rot on the ground – as they bid to reverse the slump.

The aim is to slash the number of bottles produced by 44 per cent – and force prices back up.

Trade magazine The Grocer said: “It is not hard to see why they have taken such drastic action. While sales of champagne in France are down a modest 3.8 per cent, exports across Europe fell by a third and Japan has fallen by 45 per cent.

“In a market worth £302million a year, almost all the 10 biggest brands have taken a hit.”

According to forecasts, worldwide sales are expected to fall to 260million bottles this year, after a record of 339million in 2007.

Adam Lechmere, editor of trade magazine Decanter, said: “Many growers say they won’t break even this year.

“Even if that happens, we won’t see a dearth for a while as the stocks are still so high.

“Many people are getting named champagne for small, personal family parties or gatherings but getting in the prosecco for anything else.

“We are not falling out of love with fizz… just trading down.

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Tuesday, December 12, 8:29 am

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