Export of French Crémant to British shores increased 53% in volume and 61% by value in 2016

Rebecca Gibb MW

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Prosecco’s sparkling success finally appears to be opening doors for other fizz categories.

French sparkling wines are also experiencing major growth, as drinkers look for well-priced fizz beyond Champagne

From the Loire to Limoux, sparkling wines sporting the Crémant designation – sparkling wines made in the traditional method – are on the up. 

According to figures published in Business France, exports of French Crémant to British shores increased 53% in volume year in the first 11 months of 2016 while value was up 61% in the same period to 2.4m euros.

Waitrose’s sales figures corroborate this upward trend.

Buyer Rebecca Hull MW explains: “We’ve seem considerable growth - over 20% in volume - in Crémant in the last 52 weeks and are expecting to see similar growth in 2017.”

Value for money is one of the key factors in Crémant’s (and Prosecco’s) popularity.

For example, the convincing, appley Chenin Blanc-based Saumur sparkler from Bouvet Ladubay is just £9.99 in a mixed case of six at Majestic; even Prosecco struggles to match its quality-price ratio. 

John Franklin, communications manager for Mentzendorff, the UK agent of Bollinger-owned Langlois-Chateau, attributes Crémant’s success to its status as “an affordable treat”.

The Loire producer, established in 1885, experienced growth of 16% in 2016, with all channels in growth. 

Heading south from the Loire to the appellation of Limoux, exports of its sparkling wine to the UK increased 52% in volume and 58% in value to 1.5 million euros.

You are most likely to stumble across an internationalised Cremant de Limoux blend or Mauzac-dominant Blanquette de Limoux, but there’s no doubt that Limoux’s methode ancestrale wines are enjoying increased popularity among progressive on-trade buyers, as part of the rising tide of petillant naturel wines.

These pet-nat wines, also made under the Blanquette de Limoux banner but using a rather rustic production method, allow the wine to finish its first fermentation in bottle, generally leaving the lees inside, creating a cloudy wine with a gentle sparkle that often tastes like a fizz that’s mated with a cider.

They may not be exported in large volumes, but this category of sparkling wines taps into the natural wine movement and a desire for more artisanal products.

Back in the mainstream, Prosecco surely has to take some of the credit for showing drinkers that sparkling wines shouldn’t be reserved solely for special occasions or a treat; they can be consumed mid-week.

It’s clear from figures across the off- and on-trade that Prosecco isn’t just for birthdays and weddings: Brits drink 2.5 times more Prosecco than Italians and spends more on Prosecco than Champagne (IRI, 13/12/17).

Tim Eales, strategic insight director at IRI, a data and analytics provider, said: “It’s official: we’re all celebrating far too much according to our figures.”

But it’s not just Prosecco and Cremant.

“Even Cava, which seemed to fall out of favour with the rise in popularity of Prosecco a few years ago, has seen value and volume increases in most countries this year,” he noted. 

In short, despite the gloom of our grey skies, Brits are adding more sparkle to their lives.

Prosecco has been the Pied Piper but there are plenty of other sparkling wine producers that are playing a tune that drinkers are prepared to follow.

 

 

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