Never has the world been so thirsty for champagne. Everywhere in France and around the world, its bottles are making a jubilant “pop”. So much so that 300 million bottles are expected to be shipped this year, generating 5 billion euros in sales.
Who would have thought it: the pandemic, generating a need for effervescence, has brought Louis Pasteur’s maxim – “A meal without champagne is like a day without sunshine” – back into fashion. But if this nectar is experiencing a new boom, it is also and above all due to the impetus of a young generation of winemakers and owners who are determined to carry the colors of their region far and wide. With them, planet Champagne is making its revolution. And, away from the bling-bling bubbles, it is resetting its codes of consumption.
Gastronomos offers a day trip to Champagne with tastings departing from Paris.
Champagne: An irresistible desire for lightness
Champagne has been in the process of changing for some time “but the pandemic had the effect of a revelation. It was the exit, the bubble of hedonism, the desire to live, that suddenly made people discover this wine with a thousand facets in a different way,” says Aurore Casanova. Former professional ballerina, she quit her promising career and at the age of 24, in 2011, focused on her other passion: ” gardening”,3.5 hectares of vines, where she practices an alternative viticulture, as natural as possible, in order to give life to sparkling champagnes. François Philipponnat has done the same. At 28, he works with his father Charles on the future of the family business, whose fan club knows no bounds. It must be said that the house overlooks, from the top of Clos des Goisses, a steep square of 5.5 hectares of mythical vines and five hundred years of Champagne history. They know how to make viticulture rhyme with sustainable development and gastronomy, “we realize a true democratization of champagne. It is the breaking of the glass ceiling that prevented it from being served at the table. We discovered that it can be enjoyed casually with a cheese plate, a plate of oysters, a roast chicken…” smiles François.
A cuisine that comes out of the great tralala of lobster thermidor deals and brings the bottles out of their reserve. Champagne is increasingly seen as a wine. And the prism of the crisis has further reinforced this paradigm shift. We have moved away from a strictly celebratory consumption. Opening a bottle of champagne has become a more familiar, everyday gesture.
Champagne: map and the territory
However, how can we explain that, in the face of the flood of Italian sparkling wines, Spanish cavas and other bubblers that are swamping the planet, the irreducible vineyards of Champagne endure and that its 0.5% of the world’s wine-growing area remain the epicenter of desire? “In this age of globalization, drinking a terroir is like drinking a magic potion. It is drinking the link, drinking from a history, a tradition, a know-how, a piece of life,” emphasizes anthropologist Abdu Gnaba. And since champagne is not extensible, it keeps the exclusivity and magic of its bubbles. Nowhere else can they be duplicated, they are unique.
Before, champagne was a brand story, today it is more and more a winemaker story,” says Pierre-Louis Martin, who runs the Jeeper vineyard. We want to know who is behind the bottle, how it is made, where the vines are, if we produce our own yeast, if we are eco-responsible”… Mélanie Tarlant tells us that last month, at the Champagne Fair in Modena, Italy, 5,000 tickets were sold for over 100 euros! People want to meet us in person,” she says. They are looking for authenticity.