Tensions mount over 2020 yields for Champagne

Monday June 29 2020 by Vitisphere

 “The crisis we are going through is the worst since Champagne was created. Weathering the storm is not about resolving the sum of individual interests but promoting the collective interest”, stresses Maxime Toubart. “The crisis we are going through is the worst since Champagne was created. Weathering the storm is not about resolving the sum of individual interests but promoting the collective interest”, stresses Maxime Toubart. - Photo credit : SGV

Covid-19 is not going to undermine the spirit of dialogue and togetherness that has always presided over economic management of the Champagne industry. That’s if Jean-Marie Barillère and Maxime Toubart, co-chairmen of the Champagne marketing board, get their way. In a joint letter dated 24 June and titled ‘Let's stay united through the storm!’ they stress that organisation of the Champagne wine industry is “a model for all French wine regions” and gives it “exceptional resilience”.

These collective efforts are necessary. They enable us to keep quality squarely in our sights, harvest after harvest”, write the two chairmen, who warn of the perils of lack of unity: “It is essential that each individual weigh up the consequences of separate viewpoints, because they involve the whole of Champagne”. The finger is implicitly pointed at the Champagne independent winegrowers’ association and its 405 members, who have voiced their disagreements virulently – their militancy is rare in the muffled world of Champagne. They have announced their decision to freeze their levies payable to the Champagne winegrowers’ association until July 22, the date when yields are due to be set. Their demand is that yields should be no lower than 9,000 kg.

According to their chairman, Yves Couvreur, this is the breakoff point where producers can make their operations profitable – it differs from grape growers whose overheads are lower. “What worries me is that in the Champagne marketing board, not one winegrower is willing to defend yields of 9,000 kg”, he adds, calling for two different yields, one for Champagne producers, the other for grape growers.

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