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In down economy, demand for champagne is popping

Steve Chiotakis Dec 13, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: The people who make champagne are popping the top these days. International sales of bubbly are up by double digits over last year.

Simon Field is a champagne buyer for wine merchants Berry Bros. and Rudd in Hampshire, England and he’s with us now. Mr.Field, good morning.

Simon Field: Good morning.

Chiotakis: I know the economy hasn’t been a lot to celebrate. Why are people popping so much champagne these days?

Field: It’s amazing. You’d think the champagne would be a bellweather of the economy and all the forecasts you hear at the moment, things are going from bad to worse. But in our company, and in the U.K. as a whole, we’ve seen champagne sales rising — over 10 perecent increase in volume, I think it’s 18 percent at our company; and even more by value.

So to answer your question, I think I don’t know whether it’s to cure the depression, to cure the blues — or just because people are recognizing what fantastic value there can be in champagne.

Chiotakis: The European debt crisis can’t be making matters better, though, right? I mean, how do you forecast something like that?

Field: It’s difficult for the growers, because they have to predict what the economy will be like two or three years after the harvest, because they have to keep the wine on its yeast for a minimum of 15 months. So they have to judge what their yields are going to be, and judge what demand’s going to be two years down the line. It can be quite tricky.

Chiotakis: And what are you thinking? What are you hearing about the demand?

Field: I think demand is going up. They restricted yields quite dramatically — perhaps in a draconian fashion — after the 2008 recession. But it looks, all the indication, is that demand is going up.

Chiotakis: Simon Field, the champagne buyer for Berry Bros. and Rudd. Thank you sir.

Field: Thanks very much.

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