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Published:  23 July, 2008

Stanislas Henriot, MD of Henriot Champagne, has warned that the abolition of fixed grape prices in Champagne, under EU free market rules, could start a dangerous price spiral. Speaking at a vertical tasting of Henriot Champagnes in London last week, Henriot said: The co-ops will decide the price of vins clairs, and so the leaders of the co-ops must understand that they have a great responsibility. If the price goes too high, as in the early 1990s, there will be a big crunch, because people will not be prepared to pay silly prices for Champagne. A lot of co-op leaders are reasonable, and saw what happened in the 1990s,' he continued. But if there are even a few who are politically motivated, and who raise prices, then others will follow. If some in the Aube, for example, raise theirs, then others in the Cte des Blancs will raise theirs, and there will be an upward spiral. A small minority of mad people can have a big knock-on effect.' Henriot's father, Joseph, president of Henriot Champagne and a past MD of Veuve Clicquot, sees another danger in the way that most Champagne is currently being marketed. When you do too much marketing, you kill the image of the brand,' he said. We stick to the opinion that you need to produce fine wine. Your clients like it and they transfer the image of the brand. We are not looking for noisy publicity, which works for a few years, but not for long,' he added. Many Champagne brands are pushing too hard. They are marketed in a way which, to me, is absolutely stupid in the long run.'