By James Atkinson

Blanc de Blancs, Extra Brut and Rose style Champagne are continuing to gain momentum, Champagne producers have told TheShout.

On a recent visit to Champagne, Ruinart chef de cave Frederic Panaiotis told TheShout that Blanc de Blancs Champagne – made purely from Chardonnay grapes – continues to grow in stature. 

Ruinart's Blanc de Blancs is only a relatively recent addition for the oldest Champagne house, but has become its flagship cuvee. "It's been extremely successful," Panaiotis said. 

"Now there's a whole category of Blanc de Blancs, as much as there is a Rose category – in a few countries, Blanc de Blanc has become quite big." 

Cattier commercial director Philippe Bienvenu says Blanc de Blancs is ideally suited to Australia's climate. "I always recommend Blanc de Blancs in hot countries. You open the bottle, you finish the bottle, because it's so light and refreshing." 

Ultra dry, 'Extra Brut' champagnes with less than 6 grams of residual sugar per litre are also in vogue, but not everyone is convinced about their drinkability. 

"There's a big trend towards no dosage and Extra Brut, but some of the wines are very sharp and a bit too lean," says Ruinart's Frederic Panaiotis. 

"Except in a special year with more ripeness, you could have a little sugar. But in most years the acidity is fairly high, so having no dosage makes fairly 'geeky' champagnes."

Rose champagne continues to expand in popularity, now accounting for close to 10 per cent of total champagne production, up from four or five per cent of the market 20 years ago. 

Houses such as Ruinart and Gosset report that Rose represents up to 20 per cent of their output.

Champagne consumption occasions continue to expand into dining situations. "When I was a kid, no-one would have thought of having a whole dinner with different Champagne wines," said Champagne Gosset president Jean-Pierre Cointreau. 

"Today people will probably try two or three different champagnes with the different dishes they eat – it's a very interesting way of spreading the consumption of champagne." 

G.H. Mumm last year launched its new Champagne Protocoles communication platform, which advises consumers on the most suitable champagnes to match with canapes, main meals, desserts and cheeses, in a lighthearted and playful manner.

Gosset's Jean-Pierre Cointreau tips that Champagne will increasingly be consumed in cocktails in emerging markets. "We have seen the cocktail trend developing for Cognac, and although this is not something I'm looking for Gosset, I'm sure that the cocktail trend is going to pick up with Champagne," he says. 

"As producers of wine or spirits, you have to look for what pleases your clients."

See the current issue of National Liquor News for a comprehensive feature on the Champagne category.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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