Belgium ranks 5th in champagne imports in the world, with 9,200,000 bottles officially shipped to the Kingdom. Of this amount, 90.8% is non-vintage brut, followed by rosé (3.7%) and other non-vintage champagne (1.1%), stated Tuesday Bureau du Champagne Benelux. These figures, which have a slight downward trend, no doubt due to duty increases, do not however include bottles obtained abroad by Belgian consumers.
In total, 4,461 wine makers and shippers, 39 cooperatives and 306 champagne producers, on 33,762 producing hectares, together shipped, in 2015, 312,531,444 bottles throughout the world. The European Union totals 25.6% of shipments, and the United Kingdom is the foremost importer of champagne, at 34 million bottles.
At the end of June 2016 the trend was positive, with a very slight increase (+1%), observed the Bureau, an entity dedicated to communication on champagne wines in Belgium.
With sales of 4.7 billion euros in 2015, 2.6 of which generated through exports, champagne has moreover beaten its value record, stated the Bureau.
The 2016 vintage has revealed excellent quality notwithstanding difficult weather (constant rain from January to June, with a sunlight deficit, a succession of periods of freezing in spring, hailstorms in April, May, June, and July, and scalding of plants at the end of August due to temperatures above 35°C). Up to 30% of the harvest may have been destroyed, regretted Bureau du Champagne.
However, the sun and heat of August, together with cool nights, assured quick ripening under excellent conditions. The harvest was then carried out mostly in good weather and the clusters were in excellent health. The natural alcohol level was most often definitely above the 9%/vol. required. Average yield for champagne wines should therefore be at about 8,000 kg/ha.
Maria Novak (Source: Belga)