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Drinkaware

Champagne Reclassification

ChampagneThe worldwide demand for Champagne has continuously increased throughout the 1990s and 2000s. A record in worldwide shipping of Champagne (including domestic French consumption) of 327 million bottles was set in 1999 in anticipation of the end of the millennium celebrations, and a new record was set in 2007 at 338.7 million bottles. Since the entire vineyard area authorised by the 1927 AOC regulations is now planted, various ways of expanding the production has been considered. The allowed yield was increased (to a maximum of 15,500kg per hectare during an experimental period from 2007 to 2011) and the possibility of revising the production region was investigated.

After an extensive review of the vineyard conditions in and around the existing Champagne region, Institut National des Appellations d'Origine presented a proposal to revise the region on March 14, 2008. The proposals were prepared by a group of five experts in the subjects of history, geography, geology, phytosociology and agronomy, working from 2005. The proposal means expanding the region to cover vineyards in 357 rather than 319 villages. This is to be achieved by adding vineyards in fourty villages.

The INAO proposal was to be subject to review before being made into law and was immediately questioned in numerous public comments. The mayor of one of the villages to be delisted, Germaine, immediately appealed against the INAO’s proposal, with the possibility of additional appeals by vineyard owners. The initial review process has been finished as of early 2009. This is to be followed by another review of the specific parcels that will be added or deleted from the appellation. The earliest vineyard plantings are expected around 2015, with their product being marketed from around 2021. However, the price of land that is allowed to be used for Champagne production is expected to immediately rise from 5,000 to one million euro per hectare.

While some critics have feared the revision of the Champagne region is about expanding production irrespective of quality, British wine writer and Champagne expert Tom Stevenson has pointed out that the proposed additions constitute a consolidation rather than expansion. The villages under discussion are situated in gaps inside the perimeter of the existing Champagne regions rather than outside it.

 

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