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You may have noticed that Champagnes are always more expensive than other sparkling wines. What are the factors that determine the price of a Champagne? Vinatis sheds some light on the subject.

chardonnay

GRAPE CULTIVATION


Champagne grapes are expensive. Very expensive... Indeed, they are among the most expensive grapes in the world! The production sites are well defined in the Champagne vineyard, and the price of the berries is between 6€ and 7€/ kg. A premium can be added to this price in the case of estates using organic farming or other environmental practices. In the Champagne region, several estates cultivate hectares of vines according to the principles of organic farming or sustainable agriculture. The vineyards of Champagne are indeed invested in environmentally friendly viticulture and within the next ten years, almost all the farmers will be certified organic, to meet the growing demand for organic Champagne.

The most commonly used grape varieties in Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. These are the varieties that give the most flavour and complexity to the famous sparkling wine. However, other grape varieties are allowed in the blends, although they represent only a very small quantity. These include Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. To produce a 75cl bottle of Champagne, 1.2 kg of grapes are needed. For the grapes in the bottle alone, this represents about 7.20€ per bottle.

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riddling champagne

CHAMPAGNE PRODUCTION


Producing Champagne is complex and time consuming. The cost of production represents 10% of the price of the final product. The price of the bottle and its label is about €1.50. Other less expensive methods exist to produce sparkling wines. However, the Champagne method is the one that offers the best results. There is no doubt that on the nose and palate, good Champagnes stand out from all other sparkling wines.

HAND HARVESTING

From the moment of harvest, the highest quality standards are applied. Manual harvesting is therefore compulsory in Champagne, in order to harvest the whole bunches and not to damage the grapes. This already implies a cost in terms of labour and logistics, in order to transport the grapes from the plots to the winery. If for the vast majority of Champagnes the final product is the result of blending grapes harvested in different vintages, Vintage Champagnes must be made from a one year's harvest. The cool continental climate makes viticulture sometimes complicated in Champagne, so Vintage Champagnes are only made in exceptional years. These elements directly influence the final price.

COMPLEX VINIFICATION

The complex vinification method, known as the traditional method or the méthode champenoise, requires not only time, but also precise handling and know-how. In the case of Champagnes, the blending is done in a rigorous manner. For big brands or Vintage Champagnes, the blending is even more precise and subject to strict rules.

LONG AGEING

Once the riddling stage has been completed, which used to take up to eight weeks before the arrival of machines, the Champagne is matured. This can be done in oak barrels and can last several years. For entry-level Champagnes, the ageing process, as with the previous stages, is reduced to a minimum. In the case of Vintage Champagnes, the ageing time is extended to 36 months. For the Champagne house in charge of ageing, this prolonged ageing generates a storage cost which is obviously reflected in the final product.

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THE CHAMPAGNE MARGIN


The margin on a Champagne can represent 20 to 30% of the total price of the bottle. This percentage includes both the producer's and the distributor's margin. However, these margins are often unevenly distributed between the producer and the distributor. To take a practical example, on a bottle of Champagne sold for €30, the producer receives €2.50, while the distributor earns €6.50. The best value for money is obtained directly from the property, by not going through an intermediary. This is an opportunity to take an interest in small Champagne producers, as well as in Grower Champagnes, to discover cuvées that are different from the big Champagne brands!

DIFFERENT COMMERCIAL NAMES

To help you find your way around when buying a bottle of Champagne, look at the small letters on the green capsule. These two letters indicate the status of the producer and the bottler.

  • NM: NÉGOCIANT MANIPULANT

    This is the case of a company buying grapes from winegrower(s). This company vinifies and produces its own Champagne from grapes that are partially or entirely purchased from other growers. A part of the grapes can be sourced from the company's own vineyards. The bottles of Champagne can then be marketed under the company's name or brand. This category concerns almost 50% of the Champagne houses on the market.

  • RM: RÉCOLTANT MANIPULANT

    The winegrower cultivates their own vines, vinifies their harvest and makes their own Champagne, which is called Grower Champagne. They bottle and market their cuvées under their own name or brand. The winegrower controls all the stages from A to Z.

  • RC: RÉCOLTANT-COOPÉRATEUR

    The winegrower entrusts his grapes to a cooperative. They then recover the product once the second fermentation in the bottle has taken place. This Champagne is then marketed under the name or brand of the winegrower.

  • CM: COOPÉRATIVE DE MANIPULATION

    A cooperative cellar to which members bring their grapes. The employees of the cooperative are responsible for pressing, vinification and blending. The Champagnes are then marketed under the cooperative's name or brand.

  • ND: NÉGOCIANT DISTRIBUTEUR

    A distributor markets under its own brand name bottles purchased from a Champagne producer.

  • MA: MARQUE D'ACHETEUR

    Buyer's brand or Auxiliary brand this category refers to a retailer who markets a Champagne of which they are not the producer. It can also be a secondary brand owned by a handling merchant, a Champagne in the name of a supermarket distributor, or a merchant distributing Champagne made by another merchant or winemaker.

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MARKETING


Marketing is very important in Champagne and impacts all producers, from large Champagne houses, to large luxury groups such as LVMH, to independent winemakers. Marketing costs include the organisation of and participation in events related to the tasting and promotion of the product. On the cost of a final bottle, marketing costs can range from €3 to €6 per bottle. These costs can increase, depending on the nature of the product. Indeed, more luxurious cuvées with special packaging or limited editions can raise the marketing cost considerably.

Some labels and boxes are created in collaboration with artists or famous personalities. Painters, actors or big names in music, many have partnered with major Champagne houses to create a unique design. The marketing costs for this kind of collaboration are of course reflected in the final price. The standard 75cl bottle being the most common, there are other larger Champagne formats that can also play into the marketing budget. Magnum, Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Methuselah, Salmanazar and Balthazar all contribute to the final price of Champagne.

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THE VAT


In the United Kingdom, the sale of Champagne is subject to 20% VAT. To take the example of a £30 Champagne, £6 is spent on VAT. As a consumer product that is widely exported throughout the world, VAT is not the same from one country to another. Champagne is also subject to excise duties. Excise duty is an additional tax, which concerns all products whose consumption the government wishes to limit. Along with tobacco and petrol, alcoholic products are no exception! This indirect tax on sparkling wines is higher than for still wines.

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GOOD DEALS FOR BUYING CHAMPAGNE ONLINE


Are you looking for good deals on Champagne? Vinatis offers you a wide range of Champagne at the best price thanks to our numerous promotional offers. Buying Champagne has never been so easy! Trust Vinatis for the following reasons:

  • - Vinatis offers the best price as we negotiate directly with the Champagne Houses; this way, we try to cut out the middle man and offer you the best prices on the market.
  • - Regular promotions on several commercial operations.
  • - Refined selections according to budget, a varied choice (major brands of Champagne as well as small producers) and recommendations (detailed product sheets, wine pairings).

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