The Comite de Champagne is the trade organisation established by statute to manage the common interests of growers (‘vignerons’) and Champagne Houses (négociants/producteurs’).
This year it the Comite has decided to limit the harvest to 8,000 kgs per hectare.
When discussing this with Maude Plener a week ago I was horrified to learn that this would mean that she would be leaving about 2,000 kgs per hectare to rot into the ground. Surely I said you can sell the excess, outside of Champagne. You could make grape juice with it. You could make still white wine with it.
No she was adamant that the rules of the CIVC had to be obeyed and she would select the best of the crop and throw the rest away.
The reason for the apparently appalling decision is due to the fact that 20 million fewer bottles of champagne have been consumed this year. With no weddings, parties nor receptions due to Coronavirus, demand for champagne has nosedived. Furthermore the government's ever promising desire for England to stand alone once again and call it Brexit has curtailed UK sales. A 20% import tariff in the US on the 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' has seen demand fall there also. This year the limit has nothing to do with the abundance or shortfall of the crop and a lot to do with a surfeit of champagne, how much can be stored away in the cellars and preventative measure to prevent its image being tarnished by some dumping of excess stock.
Champagne is not a new industry. It is not an industry that relies upon fast turn round, carefully computed stock holding, or just in time deliveries. The world really has become a sadder place if there are to be no more parties, receptions or events needing to be marked by the consumption of the worlds favourite drink.
It has survived two world wars, phyloxera, the rise of prosecco and the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.
This will probably hopefully turn out to be another minor bump in the road.