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Published:  23 July, 2008

Image being damaged

The image of Champagne is being damaged by price cutting and over-production, according to Jean-Claude Rouzaud, director general of Champagne Roederer, and one of the most respected figures in the region. "The Champenois should think less about short-term profits and more about the future of their appellation," Rouzaud told Harpers as part of a forthcoming interview. Rouzaud was particularly critical of the cheap, so-called "premier prix" Champagnes currently selling in French supermarkets at between FFr50 and FFr55 per bottle. "We all have a responsibility to our ancestors in this new century, and when I see a bottle of Champagne at that price, I think it's a terrible thing." Over-production is another problem in Champagne, as in "most other French appellations", Rouzaud believes. "In most vintages, you can't produce good Champagne if you exceed 12,000 kilos per hectare. There are too many grapes in the Champagne vineyards." Rouzaud argues that Champagne should restrict its annual production to between 200-250 million bottles in future. "If we did that, we would be able to sell our wines without tarnishing our image. In 2001 we are incapable of selling 250 million bottles without dropping the price. To sell 300 million bottles, we will be forced to sell Champagnes that are not worthy of the name."