Could now be the time for crémant in the UK?

With a widening price gap between Prosecco and Champagne, now is the time for crémant to succeed in the UK, believes the director of sparkling wine for Boisset, Marcel Combes.

Boisset own the Crémant de Bourgogne brand Louis Bouillot, which produces 3.2 million bottles annually, one third of which are rosé

In a discussion with the drinks business in London this week, Combes drew attention to an opportunity for Crémant de Bourgogne, saying that this traditional method sparkling wine from Burgundy could occupy a price band of £12-15 that is currently underserved by existing options in the UK retail sector – Champagne and English sparkling tend to sell over £20, and Prosecco sub £10.

He explained, “This is a world of Prosecco here [in the UK]; 62% of the market is Prosecco, but it is selling under £10, and Champagne is over £20, while English sparkling is over £20 too, but it is not in the off-trade because there is not enough volume.”

Continuing he said, “So I see a great opportunity between £12 and £15 for Crémant de Bourgogne.”

Acknowledging that there is a high volume of Champagne sold through UK retailers at a discounted price, he said that such promotions may move a lot of Champagne, but generated little or no profit for the supermarkets.

“With cheap Champagne there is no margin,” he stated.

As for why the UK consumer should be interested in the product from Burgundy, he added, “Crémant de Bourgogne is serious, it is made by the traditional method, it uses Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it has a long ageing process, and it is good value.”

He added that the type of sparkling wine drinker who would make the switch from competitor products to Crémant de Bourgogne were “smart people who don’t want to pay for bling bling, but something authentic, and a bit different.”

Summing up, he commented, “Crémant de Bourgogne is like art, you can enjoy it even if the artist is not famous.”

Finally, he told db, “Crémant de Bourgogne is one of the places that produces great sparkling wine, but we have to convince people of that, and it will take time, but we have plenty of time – we will be there in 100 to 200 years time… not me, but Boisset will be.”

In support of his comments, he produced Nielsen data for the UK retail sector to show that in the last 12 months to 29.12.18 sparkling wine had an average price of £9.62 per litre, while Champagne was at £31.

He also told db that he thought it was “bizarre” that the UK market has not embraced the crémants of France considering their quality and price positioning, but also their success in other wine importing markets.

“In Sweden and across Scandinavia, and in Canada and elsewhere, crémant is a success, but not here, and I don’t understand why,” he said.

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