The Comité Champagne
The Champagne industry as we know it today did not spring into existence overnight. It has been many years in the making. Years of working to confront shared problems in a bid to unite growers and Champagne Houses.
Years of forging stronger ties between the two sides for the sake of greater stability for all.
1845 The French Cour de Cassation rules in favour of a group of Champagne Houses and bans use of the name ‘Champagne’ as a generic label for sparkling wines.
1882 Creation of the ‘Syndicat du Commerce des Vins de Champagne’ (now the Union of Champagne Houses).
1890 First meetings between growers and Champagne Houses to discuss the price of grapes. Winery trade organisations are established in several communes.
1898 Creation of the ‘Association Viticole Champenoise’ (AVC, the local Champagne trade organisation).
1904 Creation of the Fédération des Syndicats Viticoles de la Champagne (now the ‘Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne’, the trade organization representing Champagne’s grape growers).
1908 Setting of the administrative boundaries.
1911 First joint trade meeting to discuss the price of grapes and define the ‘échelle des crus’ (literally ‘ladder of growths’: the rating system for determining grape prices in the Champagne area).
1919 Administrative delimitation of Champagne vineyard area.
1922 Creation of the ‘Comité de Propagande des Vins de Champagne’ (organisation for the promotion of Champagne wines).
1927 Delimitation of the official Champagne production area.
1931 Creation of the ‘Commission de Propagande et de Défense du Vin de Champagne’ (organisation for the promotion and protection of Champagne wines).
1935 Setting of the price of grapes and the first regulatory framework for the Champagne market. Setting of production standards for Champagne-produced wines. Creation of the ‘Commission Spéciale de la Champagne’ (the joint trade association representing growers and Champagne Houses, which provided the framework for today’s Comité Champagne).
1936 The Champagne Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) is established by law.
1938 ‘Blocage’ is introduced: a portion of the yield is set aside.
1940 Creation of the ‘Bureau National de Répartition des Vins de Champagne’ (organisation in charge of Champagne wine distribution).
1941 Creation of the ‘Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne’ (now the Comité Champagne), with Maurice Doyard and Robert-Jean de Vogüé as co-presidents.
1942 ‘Grape allocations’ are introduced: each House receives a percent allocation of the crop that may be used.
1944 René Chayoux (representing the Champagne Houses) becomes CIVC co-president.
1945 Albert Dagonet (representing the growers) becomes CIVC co-president. The CIVC funds wine co-operatives and pressing centres. A total of 1,500 growers account for shipments of 140,000 bottles of Champagne.
1946 Henri Macquart (representing the growers) becomes CIVC co-president. Certificate of Origin labelling becomes a requirement for all shipments of Champagne. Creation of the Commission Technique Viticole et Œnologique (now the Technical and Environmental Committee). Nine cooperative wineries ship a total of 300,000 bottles of Champagne.
1947 Creation of the ‘Commission de Propagande et d’Information’ (now the Communication and Champagne Appellation Committee).
1949 First joint trade promotional campaign. Introduction of financial incentives to plant new vineyards.
1950 Champagne shipments amount to 32 million bottles, of which 30 million bottles shipped by 98 Champagne Houses. A total 10,500 hectares of vineyard now in production.
1951 Official opening of CIVC premises.
1952 Vintage regulations come into force.
1953 Opening of the ‘Route de Champagne’ tourist circuit. Introduction of oenology training programmes for growers and Champagne Houses.
1954 Opening of the Champagne Bureau, USA.
1955 Launch of joint trade promotion ‘There is only one Champagne and it comes from Champagne!’
1956 Christian Heidsieck (representing the Champagne Houses) becomes CIVC co-president. Champagne becomes a sponsor of the Cannes Film Festival.
1957 Installation of environmental and technical surveillance on the Côte des Bar.
1958 Opening of the Champagne Pavillon at the Brussels World Fair.
1959 First of several joint trade contracts to regulate the market for Champagne. The price of grapes is indexed to the bottle price – 28% of the average sale price that is charged by the Champagne Houses.
1960 Henri Geoffroy (representing the growers) becomes CIVC co-president. Creation of the Vineyard Installation Committee. Opening of Champagne Bureaus in Germany, Belgium and the UK. The Court of Appeal in London bans use of the name ‘Champagne’ to describe a Spanish sparkling wine.
1961 Champagne shipments total 50 million bottles. Planting of experimental vineyard in Plumecoq.
1962 The CIVC welcomes 1,500 visitors including journalists, sommeliers and hotel and catering students. A total of 110 wine co-ops represent 6,700 ‘déclarants’ (‘harvesters’ who are legally required to submit a harvest declaration) and 4,300 hectares of vines.
1963 Forty-nine million of bottles of Champagne are shipped by 132 ‘négociants-manipulants’ (NM, meaning large Champagne Houses that buy in the bulk of their grapes).
1964 Implementation of clonal selection programme. Cooperative wineries account for 36% of all Champagne grapes pressed.
1965 Reims and Epernay Champagne cellars welcome 50,000 visitors. Champagne trade launches national television campaign to promote its wines.
1966 Implementation of new planting programme: 3,600 hectares over the next five years.
1967 François d’Aulan (representing the Champagne Houses) becomes CIVC co-president. Second joint trade contract to regulate the market for Champagne.
1968 Opening of Champagne Bureau in Switzerland.
1969 Opening of Champagne Bureau in Québec (Canada).
1970 Champagne shipments total 100 million bottles. The CIVC commits to support the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne (official brotherhood of the major Champagne brands).
1971 Opening of Champagne Bureaus in Australia and The Netherlands. Implementation of new planting programme: 4,300 hectares over 5 years.
1972 Exports account for 32.5% of all Champagne shipments, of which 16% vintage Champagne. A total 2,850 growers ship 32 million bottles of Champagne. CIVC staff total 52.
1973 The CIVC funds vineyard trails and water resources management.
1974 Jean-Michel Ducellier (representing the Champagne Houses) becomes CIVC co-president. Launch of ‘Vin de Champagne Awards’ in Australia – the first in a series of Champagne promotions by the Champagne Bureaus across the world.
1975 Third joint trade contract to regulate the market for Champagne. Vineyard planting comes to a halt. Champagne trade association launches national advertising campaign ‘Champagne: there’s nothing like it’.
1976 Opening of Champagne Bureau in Italy. Nine million bottles of Champagne are shipped by 24 cooperative wineries.
1978 Marc Brugnon (representing the growers) becomes CIVC co-president. Fourth joint trade contract to regulate the market for Champagne.
1979 Wine cooperatives represent 62% of ‘déclarants’ (see above) and 48% of the total area under vine.
1980 Implementation of new planting programme: 5,000 hectares over the next 10 years.
1981 Opening of Champagne Bureau in Venezuela. Construction of CIVC experimental laboratory and fermenting room (right wing of building).
1982 Opening of Champagne Bureau in Ontario (Canada). CIVC staff now total 70.
1984 Fifth joint trade contract to regulate the market for Champagne. The ‘Tribunal de Grande Instance’ in Paris (High Court) forbids a brand of cigarettes from using the name ‘Champagne’.
1985 A total 4,600 growers account for shipments of 49.4 million bottles of Champagne; 12.2 million bottles are shipped by 36 wine co-ops. Champagne represents 12.4% of global sparkling wine production (down from 33% in 1960 and 25% in 1975).
1986 Champagne shipments now total 200 million bottles.
1987 Opening of Champagne Bureau in Spain. German federal court bans an advertisement for ‘The Champagne of mineral waters’. Adoption of a quality charter setting out best practice in the vineyard and winery. Construction of assorted CIVC facilities (left wing of the building).
1988 Champagne sponsors restoration of Reims Cathedral astronomical clock and bell tower.
1989 A total 27,100 hectares of vineyards now in production. China bans use of the name ‘Champagne’ to describe sparkling wine. Exports account for 37% of Champagne shipments. Since 1975,116 growers have become ‘négociant-manipulants’ (NM, see above).
1990 Individual contracts replace joint trade contracts as part of a new market reorganisation. Indicative prices replace fixed prices and grape allocations are discontinued. Vineyard zoning comes to Champagne. The Court of Appeal of New Zealand bans use of the name ‘Champagne’ to describe an Australian sparkling wine.
1991 Launch of an action plan for sustainable vineyard practices. A total 265 ‘négociants-manipulants’ (NM, see above) ship 140.8 million bottles of Champagne.
1992 Juice extraction is limited to 102 litres of must per 160kg of grapes pressed. Planting of experimental vineyard in Essoyes.
1993 Pressing-centre approval specifications come into effect. The Court of Appeal in Paris bans use of the name ‘Champagne’ to describe a brand of perfume. The Court of Appeal in London bans use of the name ‘Champagne’ to describe a sparkling fruit juice.
1994 Yves Bénard (representing the Champagne Houses) and Philippe Feneuil (representing the growers) become CIVC co-presidents. Launch of communications campaign on the variety of Champagne wines (body, heart, spirit, soul). The European Union forbids use of the term ‘méthode champenoise’ on the label of sparkling wines. The Champagne joint trade association wins EU recognition. New plantings are halted (until 1998).
1995 France’s budget ministry appoints the CIVC to manage the computerised vineyard register. The CIVC simplifies Adelphe membership in a bid to promote recycling of bottles and packaging.
1996 A total of 30,700 hectares of vineyards now in production.
1997 Opening of Champagne Bureau in Japan. The CIVC forbids the spreading of urban waste in the vineyards. The process for setting aside part of the yield is improved. The minimum aging period for bottled Champagne wine is increased from 12 to 15 months (of which at least 12 months in bottle prior to disgorgement).
1998 Creation of Post-Production Quality Control Committee. A total of 12,600 Champagne brands (of which 3,000 are merchants’ own brands) are registered with the CIVC.
1999 Champagne shipments rise to 327 million bottles (but then drop to 253 million bottles in 2000). The setting aside of part of the yield wins EU endorsement. Construction of the ‘Institut Technique de Champagne’ (Champagne technical institute).
2000 Creation of the economic observatory and the environmental agency. Launch of www.champagne.fr
2001 Launch of sustainable wine-growing programme. The CIVC funds the stockpile management of winery solid waste and the installation of collective facilities to improve environmental performance.
2002 Launch of on-going action plan to promote recognition of the Champagne Appellation in the USA.
2003 Start of the Champagne Appellation revision process. Assessment of Champagne industry environmental impact. Launch of extranet site www.champagne.fr/professionnels
2004 Patrick Le Brun (representing the growers) becomes CIVC co-president. France’s ‘Cour de Cassation’ orders the market withdrawal of Caron foam bath ‘Royal Bain de Champagne’. Creation of Champagne Appellation protection service.
2005 Launch of European ‘Champagne Ambassador’s Award’. Implementation of trade association water-quality action plan. Champagne Houses account for 87% of exports of bottled Champagne. Vintage Champagne represents 6.4% of exports of bottled Champagne.
2006 Opening of Champagne Bureau in China. Seizing and destruction of fake Champagne in several EU countries. Champagne shipments exceed three million bottles, accounted for as follows: 217.7 million by 270 négociants-manipulants (NM, see above); 74.6 million by 4,801 growers; and 29.4 million by 43 wine co-ops. Exports represent 43.7% and 50.9% of shipments by volume and by value respectively.
2007 Ghislain de Montgolfier (representing the Champagne Houses) becomes CIVC co-president. New process for setting aside part of the yield is implemented. Submission of nomination proposal for the ‘Landscapes of Champagne’ to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO World Heritage List. Drafting of multi-year action plans to reduce greenhouse gases.
2008 European Union broadens trade association remit. Grape harvest declarations total 20,455 submissions. CIVC staff total 126.
2009 Opening of Champagne Bureau in India. Creation of Economics and Marketing Committee. Big Champagne counterfeiting ring is broken in Italy. Wine co-ops represent 68% of ‘déclarants’ (see above) and 43% of the area under vine. The CIVC participates in UNESCO Chair on ‘Culture and traditions of wine’.
2010 Pascal Férat (representing the growers) becomes CIVC co-president. The Champagne Appellation terms of reference become law. Introduction of a lighter bottle and launch of Anaxogore programme. Opening of Champagne Bureau in Russia. The Hague Tribunal bans use of the name ‘Champagne’ to describe a shampoo. Swiss manufacturer of ‘Recettes de Champagne’ biscuits agrees to drop the name ‘Champagne’ from the label. India and many other countries undertake to recognise and protect the Champagne Appellation.
2011 Launch of plot-by-plot re-evaluation of the Champagne vineyards. The Champagne reserve system, which allows part of the crop to be set aside, is improved and consolidated. Opening of the Champagne Bureau in Brazil. Total number of vineyards now in production reaches 33,344 hectares. Introduction of paperless certificate of origin and harvest declaration system. Champagne sponsors restoration of the Grande Rose window in Reims Cathedral. Communications on social media networks.
2012 The German Champagne Bureau broadens its remit to include Austria and the Benelux Champagne Bureau is opened. Completion of a strategic study into the future of the Champagne business. Release of a new Champagne Committee guide on “Sustainable building in Champagne”.
2013 Jean-Marie Barillere (representing the Champagne Houses) becomes co-president of the Comité Champagne. First exhibition dedicated to Champagne at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Reims. The French TV series “Le sang de la Vigne” (Blood of the Vine) devotes an episode to Champagne.
2014 Launch of “Sustainable viticulture” certification. New legal framework covering contracts for grape and grape must sales from the 2014 harvest to the 2018 harvest. Launch of the web TV series "Terre de Champagne” (Land of Champagne)
2015 Vincent Perrin appointed CEO of the Champagne Committee. The “Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars” inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The Committee launches its first e-learning programme Champagne Campus along with its film 360°Champagne and relaunches the carbon plan.
2016 Maxime Toubart (winegrower representative) becomes co-president of the Comité Champagne. A new European planting rights system is introduced. Champagne shipments reach a record high. The Champagne-Ardenne region is extended and renamed the “Grand Est”. Launch of a “varietal creation” programme.