A year of change bubbles over.

With little in the way of growth for Champagne during 2020, our buying team have backed a year of change over the Christmas and New Year season with a series of new sparkling wines added to our portfolio, geared away from the Grandes Marques.

Neilsen data keeps pointing to Champagne losing its effervescence throughout the year, with the latest reoprt showing a 6% loss in volume and 2% loss in value* (and a staggering -29% during the Lockdown period, the worst performing category across all wine). Keen to ensure we service a different and growing part of the market and maintain the relevance and the quality our dicerning customers expect, we've added new lines to our portfolio, with Contratto, Gramona, Leoube, Della Vitte and Porte Noire all joining our world class selection of wines.

Our Director of Buying Harriet Kininmonth said “Despite the difficulties everyone has persevering through the various Tier systems - we’re optimistic about Christmas and New Year's trade as a whole, hoping for a return towards normality which is likely to see a demand for fizz, even if just to toast out a year to forget!" 

"2020 has brought so many changes and we trust in our pioneering spirit to help navigate the months ahead, which is why we’ve added strong selection of alternative sparkling wines to our portfolio.”.

Each of the additions have unique attributes and showcase numerous different styles, yet all share similar status in being highly acclaimed by critics. Just last week, Gramona scooped top honours at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, winning Best Spanish Sparkling, while The Spectator said of Della Vitte “The dark, frosted bottle with its gold writing is delightfully sleek and elegant as is the box in which it comes. And as for the wine, well, it’s darn tasty...”

Meanwhile very few sparkling rosés are made in Provence, less so are traditional champagne method examples, making Sparkling de Léoube a very rare gem, made from even rarer fruit parcels from the organic vineyards of Chateau Léoube. It offers something different to the drinker and to wine lists, while the likes of Contratto, showcase just how rich the heritage is outside of Champagne. Dating back to the 19th century, its cellar still retains most of the characteristics of that time and is now a UNESCO site.

This shift in preference and  and a sense that shoppers are exploring options away from the traditional names rings true for our online retail site, Great Wine Co, whose sales data reflect drinkers’ current trend towards alternative fizz. Sparkling Wine has grown at twice the rate of Champagne throughout the year and +500% overall, in part due to the surge of sales moving online during Lockdown.

Kininmonth continues “We’re seeing both the trade and consumers gaining a better knowledge of alternative sparkling wines and they now have confidence in their quality. Packaging, provenance, process, heritage and even famous names – it’s not just Champagne that offers what drinkers want and we’re thrilled to have bolstered our stellar offering to showcase the best alternatives on the market”.

*Neilsen September 2020 Market Report.