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Champagne Demand to Get Lift From Olympic, Royal Toasts in 2012

Champagne demand may accelerate this year as London hosts the Olympic Games and consumers in emerging markets drink more of the sparkling wine, according to an industry group.

The Olympic host country saw orders rise about 10 percent on average during the last five rounds of games, said Francoise Peretti, director of the Champagne Bureau, the U.K. arm of Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne. Shipments to the U.K. also rose 26 percent in 2002 as revelers celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee, she said.

“Champagne is the ultimate drink of celebration,” Peretti said in a phone interview. With the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee taking place this year in the U.K., “we can be expecting the first export market to be drinking its fair share.”

Meanwhile, surging wealth in Russia, Latin America and Asia “is fueling the appetite for luxury goods and champagne is part of the super-premium experience,” she said.

Champagne shipments increased 1.1 percent to 323 million bottles last year, according to CIVC. Exports rose 5.2 percent, more than compensating for a 1.9 percent decline in France and a 2.7 percent drop in the U.K., the industry group said.

In France, where volume was 181.6 million bottles last year, the market is expected to be “fairly stable” in 2012, according to Peretti. Orders slowed in the last two months of 2011 amid concern about austerity measures, she said.

Tasting 6,000 Bottles

While champagne remains a French drink with a strong U.K. and U.S. following, interest is “definitely continuing” in emerging markets, Peretti also said. In 2011, shipments surged 59 percent in India, 32 percent in Australia, 25 percent in Russia, 19 percent in China, 15 percent in Hong Kong and 14 percent in the U.S., according to CIVC.

“We know it’s going to grow steadily,” Peretti said of demand from emerging markets.

Laurent Perrier SA, the maker of Grand Siecle champagne, said in December that orders may deteriorate as Europe’s debt crisis weighs on consumption this year. Shipments of the sparkling wine slowed in the last two months of 2011, Chief Financial Officer Etienne Auriau said at the time.

The Champagne Bureau holds its annual trade and media tasting today at Banqueting House in London, where 79 brands will present 233 cuvees with vintages ranging from 1998 to 2007, uncorking more than 6,000 bottles. The event is the largest of its kind in Europe, according to the industry group.

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