Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, February 14, 2023 – For more than 120 years, the winegrowers and houses of Champagne have worked together to maintain balance within the Champagne sector and the influence of the appellation around the world. Like their predecessors, the people of Champagne today are laying the ground for the prosperity of tomorrow. Today, the Comité Champagne unveils the sector’s plan for the next decade and defines a global trajectory to meet the challenges of the next ten years – a plan to ensure that Champagne is always available, always desirable and always exemplary. In the course of five years, the Comité Champagne will increase its annual budget by an additional €10 million, which will be invested in particular in R&D, the sustainability and strengthening its foundational missions.
Champagne remains the benchmark
Results for 2022 confirm the overall dynamism of the Champagne market with 326 million bottles shipped (+ 1.6% compared to 2021). Champagne made a quick recovery from the shock of the 2020 health crisis, and its unique position in the hearts and minds of consumers remains as strong as ever.
An industry organisation to meet the challenges of tomorrow
The vineyards are all the same fragile, and subject to the vagaries of the climate. We are seeing the development of diseases that cause the vines to wither, such as flavescence dorée which is threatening to become the phylloxera of the 21st century.
Champagne’s Winegrowers and Houses are facing these new challenges in their customary collective spirit – taking their destiny in hand.
A rescaled research, development and innovation centre
The industry will confront the challenges of production and quality with a new research, development and innovation centre to be completed by 2025. This will increase the area of the existing laboratory by 40%. New state-of-the-art equipment will include a new, redesigned vat house/experimental cellar, a new tasting room, twice as large, and a new one-hectare experimental facility.
Preparing for the viticulture of tomorrow, and preserving the distinctive qualities of wines in a changing climate
Research on grape varieties is a powerful lever for adapting to climate change, and reducing the use of phytopharmaceutical products. To this end, Champagne joined INRAE's varietal innovation programme in 2010 and created its own regional programme in 2014.
To ensure the availability and quality of its wines in the long term, Champagne is experimenting with new grape varieties, researching ways to combat the various forms of vineyard decline, defining new soil maintenance methods and new oenological strategies –both to anticipate the effects of climate change and also to satisfy the imperatives of agro-ecology.
An ambitious plan to move the sector towards "Net Zero Carbon" by 2050
Champagne has been at the forefront of sustainable development in the wine industry. Work on effluent treatment, biological control in the vineyards and vineyard zoning began here back in the 1980s. Priorities for the Champagne industry today are the fight against climate change and the adaptation to new conditions , and the sector is particularly proud of the results it has already achieved: 100% treatment of wine effluents and more than 90% of industrial waste; 20% reduction in the carbon footprint per bottle since 2003; 63% of wine-growing areas now certified environmentally (objective 100% certified by 2030).
In 2003, Champagne was the first wine region in the world to carry out a carbon footprint assessment. Today it is accelerating the implementation of its carbon plan towards Net Zero Carbon by 2050, with a substantial reduction in emissions (-75% in 2050), the development of carbon sinks, and, as a last resort, by offsetting unavoidable emissions.
But this plan must also reinforce the economic and social ambitions of Champagne. These ambitions include improving the resilience of the sector, its workforce (which are essentially fixed in place) and the overall attractiveness of the region.
It is not just a question of responding to the changing demands of consumers; it is a question of ensuring the productivity and sustainability of the Champagne vineyard; of designing and promoting a viticulture that is in balance with the ecosystem, to produce a sufficient quantity of quality grapes. This is what we aim to achieve, and the course we have set for ourselves," says Maxime Toubart, President of Syndicat général des vignerons and Co-President of the Comité Champagne.
Strengthening the founding missions of the Comité Champagne
The success of the Champagne region is also based on its collective projects.
The challenges of tomorrow first of all require a greater involvement of professionals in the development of tools and methods. Participative innovation will serve as a lever within the framework of the new plan, with a more systematic involvement of field operators and partners in the research and innovation stages. In this way, the sector’s participants will be better supported and further encouraged to adopt innovations.
Secondly, the plan will support the training mission with a massive, coherent and impactful education ecosystem, making it the gateway and key player in Champagne training.
Today, Champagne has offices in ten of its largest export markets, responsible for promoting the appellation in their respective territories. This network of Champagne embassies will expand to represent the Champagne experience all around the world.
One of the founding roles of the Comité Champagne is the protection of the Champagne appellation, in defence of a heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Today, thanks to the daily action of the Comité Champagne, the Champagne appellation is recognised and protected in more than 121 countries. It will be the task of the industry plan to continue the fight against abusive uses of the appellation, which are becoming increasingly numerous as new media and new technologies emerge.
"The investment we make embodies the social responsibility of our sector. It is an absolute priority to ensure that Champagne continues to be recognised as an exceptional wine, supported by a united, responsible and committed industry. Our plan gives new impetus for new ambitions, for our appellation and our terroir," comments David Chatillon, President of the Union des Maisons de Champagne and Co-President of the Comité Champagne.
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About the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne: The Comité Champagne is the body that brings together the professions on each side of the Champagne industry, one of the first such bodies to be created. Since 1941, it has represented the common interests of the Winegrowers and Houses of Champagne, and contributes to the balance and influence of the whole Champagne sector and its appellation, serving as an instrument of economic progress. Through the Comité Champagne, the two families – Winegrowers and Champagne Houses – are brought together in a relationship of partnership and consensus-building. The Comité Champagne works daily for some 16,200 winegrowers, 130 cooperatives and 370 Champagne Houses, bringing together large international companies and very small producers alike, on an equal footing around the same table.