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Global shortage of Champagne to hit Britons

Published:  23 July, 2008

EUROPE: The increasing global demand for Champagne will lead to a worldwide shortage.

Global Champagne sales have risen sharply in recent years, from 287m bottles in 2002 to 321m in 2006.

This year they are forecast to reach 330m, with exports to Russia alone growing by 39%.

In China and India exports are growing by 50% and 125% respectively.

The shortfall is blamed on a restriction to extend the region's vineyards.

Only 32,600 hectares of vineyards are authorised to produce the black grapes needed for Champagne.

Experts say the maximum number of bottles that can be wrung out of that land is 350m and claim the Champagne industry is a victim of commercial success, strict red tape and an ingrained conservative mentality of those who grow its grapes.

They say the only way to solve the shortage in the short term is for the grape-growers in France to agree to sell the estimated 100m bottles currently maturing in cellars.

A long-term solution is for more vines to be planted, although official permission is required to do so, and this is believed to be at least ten years off being granted because of a ban on new plantings outlined in the draft EU Wine Reform.