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Prestige fizz getting pricier

Prices of top Champagnes are shooting up despite the economy heading the other way.

Wine trading exchange Live-ex has seen its Champagne index rise 27% in value over the past 12 months. This index tracks the price of 25 of the world’s most sought-after vintage Champagnes.

James Miles, founding director of Live-ex, said, ‘Demand has been growing strongly and steadily for at least a decade.’ He added that prices for the best-performing Champagnes, such as Krug, Cristal and Dom Perignon from the acclaimed 1996 vintage, are up by as much as 56% since last June.

At Bordeaux Index, one of Europe’s largest wine traders, Champagne buyer Tom Mann has been experiencing something similar and he told ThirtyFifty that, ‘We’ve sold more prestige cuvees in the last 12 months than ever before.’

He said, ‘The British have a taste for mature Champagne,’ but added that the prices of young prestige cuvees are soaring too. ‘It’s become more fashionable for people to be drinking good Champagne. There is a lot being exported to the US and the Far East is getting a taste for it. It’s a sign of wealth.’

Part of the reason for the high prices is that supplies of some of the prestige vintages are getting low. Tom said, ‘Certainly, good stocks of 1996 are getting difficult to find. For example, Salon ’96 – a year ago I could get it, now I struggle. It’s the same with Dom Perignon ’96. People are listening to what we tell them, which is that there’s going to be a point where they can’t get it, so they are buying now, while they can, either as an investment or to drink.’

So are these top bottles overpriced? Tom generally thinks not. ‘On the whole, they’re undervalued,’ he said. ‘People realise when they look at the top Champagnes that they are a fraction of the cost of the world’s top wines. 1996 Krug is phenomenally high at £2,600 a case but, compared to a top white Burgundy, it’s a complete bargain.’

He added that, ‘With something like Dom Perignon, how they keep the wine that consistent and that high quality when they make up to five million bottles a year is stunning.’

Just as well that they do make that many bottles when the top 10 nightclubs in London each go through 600 bottles of Dom Perignon a week, according to Tom. Add all the other clubs in the capital and goodness knows how much prestige fizz we’re getting through!