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Affluent parts of UK put fizz back into Champagne sales

Published:  16 August, 2013

Champagne corks are beginning to pop again in more affluent pockets of the UK, while sparkling wine continues to be "a runaway success" across the board, according to recent trade figures.

Despite Nielsen figures showing volume sales for Champagne down 5% and value sales down 3% (MAT data to July 20, 2013) certain parts of the country are bucking the trend with strong Champagne sales.

John Hodges owner of the Vineyard in Dorking, Surrey, said its Champagne sales are up around 20%-30% on 2012. "Customers are noticeably hosting more lavish affairs again and sparkling wine is increasingly being seen as something to drink without a reason to celebrate."

Hodges added he is also noticing a small increase in sales of Grand Marques "which I haven't seen for a while".

The wine investment houses are also seeing increased interest in Champagne. Bordeaux Index recently reported global "record Champagne sales for the first six months of 2013" of £5.3 million of which the UK accounted for £3.7 million.

Liv-ex, which monitors fine wine prices, said in the first half of 2013 its index for the top 25 Champagne brands rose by 8.8% compared with a 0.9% fall for the same period last year. Its average share of trade on the index so far in 2013 is 2.6% compared with 1.7% last year.

Managing director of Cambridge Wine Merchants, Hal Wilson, said while Champagne is up 7% on last year with an average spend of £30, sparkling wine has been "this year's runaway success". "We've seen a 48% increase in sparkling wine, with Prosecco accounting for 45% of sales."

Rupert Pritchett of Taurus Wines said its Prosecco sales were up a third this year. "Even in the stockbroker belt they are not back on the Bolly yet."