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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Giles Fallowfield

In separate but parallel moves, Pol Roger and Mot & Chandon have launched new, slightly sweetened blends of Champagne in the UK in the run-up to Christmas, hoping to attract consumers who find Brut styles, commonly sold in the UK, too austere. Both new wines fall within the Sec' category of Champagne, which covers blends with a residual sugar content of between 17 and 35 grams per litre (Brut has up to 15 grams residual sugar). Pol Roger Rich', with a residual sugar content of 34 grams, replaces both the house's Demi-sec (dosage 54 grams) and Sec' styles. Rich' was first shown to the UK trade in Epernay last month, when the company unveiled new livery for its entire range of Champagnes, at the same time rebranding its White Foil' non-vintage blend as Pol Roger Brut Rserve. Mot & Chandon has introduced Imperial Nectar Sec (30 grams residual sugar) to the UK, a drier version of the Imperial Nectar (50 grams) that has been sold in the US for around a decade. Nectar Sec, initially available only at 250 Sainsbury's stores, is priced at 22.49, a 2 premium above Brut Imperial. Mot's brand manager, Vincent Gillet, described the move as a soft launch. We are seeing if there is a market for it, for although the English palate is largely dry, we think there's an opportunity for a sweeter product. The Demi-sec category may only account for about 1% of UK Champagne shipments, but as the brand leader we feel we should offer it in our range,' said Gillet.