global sparkling wine production

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global sparkling wine production
4/08 MEININGER’S WBI
R E G I O N A L A N A LY S I S
GLOBAL SPARKLING
WINE PRODUCTION
Most sparkling wine was originally produced to slake only local thirst. In two enormous
markets, Germany and Russia, it still is, but in the wake of Champagne’s global success,
producers the world over now eye exports as a way to improve their bottom lines. Spanish
Cava and Italian Prosecco kickstarted a trend that other countries now hope to follow.
Although there are many unknowns, and even unknowparkling wine is produced almost everywhere in the
able unknowns, total global production is estimated to be
world today, from Devonshire to Tierra del Fuego, but
about 2.15bn bottles, which would
little of it is shipped outside its
1 Sparkling wine production in central europe
give Champagne slightly over 15%
region of production, let alone
of the world’s sparkling wine market.
beyond the border. Even Cava, the
Country
in ‘000 bottles
Export in %
Beyond the classical producing
greatest success story of recent
France
550.3
37.1
countries that we examine on the
years, was little more than a local
Champagne
338.7
44.6
following pages, Russia’s meteoric
bubble a generation ago.
Other mousseux
161.6
32.9
ascent - using its ‘continuous
In the wake of Champagne’s
method’ - to 288m bottles in 2007
current global success, almost all
Germany
359.6
7.1
is nothing less than phenomenal.
producers now eye export markets
Italy
299.1
48.8
That volume is three times what
in the hopes of improving their
was produced in 2000, almost
margins. Often, though, they
Spain
224.9
56.3
exclusively to slake domestic
discover that buyers are looking
Although Central Europe was the birthplace of sparkling wine, Russia alone
thirst, and still growing fast.
only for bargain basement bubbles.
now produces almost 290m bottles a year. The other major players are the
Demand in the US has driven local
The premium market is squeezed
United States with 84m and Australia with 71m bottles.
production to 84m bottles, of which
in a small window below inexpenless that 10% is exported. Australia, on the other hand, which
sive Champagne. The bubble makers want to see retail
ships 31.4% of its sparkling production offshore, now turns
prices considerably over €5 per bottle, but few are able to
wine into bubbles in 71m bottles.
crack the €10 ceiling.
S
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In total, there are estimated to be about 2,000 sparkling
wine producers in Germany, from the three behemoths down
to small estates that still riddle their own bottles. Some 75
of the biggest are members of the German Sparkling Wine
Producers Association, which controls 93% of total production. The single largest brand is Rottkäppchen, with sales of
71.4m bottles per year. Other strong labels include Söhnlein
Brillant (27m), Faber (17.2m) and Henkell (15.8m).
Traditionally, German producers have had little incentive
to push their brands beyond the border, or at most into
neighbouring Germanic regions, but as the German
sparkling wine industry stagnates, the three largest players
are beginning to turn their attention abroad.
Henkell & Söhnlein acquired Ukrainskoye in Kiev in 2007
and Mionetto in Italy earlier this year, which will bring
company turnover to €600m ($879m), making it the second
largest sparkling wine producer in the world after LVMH.
More surprising is the story of Rotkäppchen, the East
German sparkling wine that has taken the West German
market by storm since reunification, swallowing Mumm
from Seagrams and Geldermann from Deutz along the way.
In 2007, it reported a turnover of €371.5m. Now that is has
added the domestic spirits from Eckes to its empire, analysts
predict the company might crack the €1bn ceiling this year.
Schloss Wachenheim, based in Trier, grew volume by 10m
bottles to 255.6m in 2007, supporting its claim to be the
world’s largest producer of sparkling wine in volume. That
said, total value was only €404m, putting the average price
of a bottle at only €1.58. Managing director Nick Reh has
already indicated that he will raise that by as much as €0.33
this year, which may put dampeners on further growth.
At that price point, there is not a great deal of
margin to manoeuvre.
SEKT, GERMANY’S
CELEBRATION WINE
Although hardly known abroad for its bubbles,
Germany boasts three of the world’s five largest
sparkling wine producers, writes Joel B. Payne.
That is not surprising in a country that consumes
more sparkling wine than any other.
lthough sales have fallen so dramatically since the peak in consumption
shortly after German reunification that
stagnation is often celebrated as a victory, no other country in the world consumes as much sparkling wine as
Germany. In 2007, that was 3.8 litres per
head, but down from over five in the early
1990s. Of that, 80% is produced domestically, a
figure that has remained constant over the
past generation.
In 2007, total domestic sales of all sparkling
wine fell by 2% to 413m bottles, just over 335m of which
were ‘made in Germany’. Add to that the slightly more than
24m bottles that were exported and total German production
stood at 360m bottles, down considerably from the record
year 1994, which saw the wine in just over 500m bottles
turned into bubbles.
Sekt, as sparkling wine is called in Germany, has long
been seen as an economic barometer. Positive signals from
the stock market have generally bolstered sales, but there
has been little to celebrate of late.
Beyond falling sales, the major problem for the industry is
that the average price of each bottle sold remains quite low.
Discount outlets regularly promote brands like
Nymphenburg for as little as €1.95 ($2.95). That price
includes both 19% value added tax and the €1.02 German
sparkling wine tax, bringing the ‘true’ shelf price down to
only €0.62 per bottle. When you consider that this includes
all packaging and transport, it becomes clear
that margins are low and not much investment in wine
quality is possible.
On top of that, it is very difficult to convince consumers,
who have been faithful to their brand at a given price, to try
anything new. Despite that, sales of rosé have doubled over
the past two years. Were it not for this fad, the sector would
have constricted even more.
A
Sekt’s little secret
That fact hints at the skeleton in the closet. Most Sekt is
made with cheap foreign base wines. The German ‘part’ of
a traditional Sekt blend is seldom more that 10%, according
to Dr Hermann Pilz from the Weinwirtschaft, the country’s
leading trade publication*. Ralf Peter Müller from the
Three of five
Although hardly known abroad for its bubbles, Germany
boasts three of the world’s five largest sparkling wine
producers: Henkell & Söhnlein, Rotkäppchen-Mumm and
Schloss Wachenheim. The two other are LVMH and Freixenet.
45
Sparkling wine in Germany (in bottles)
Year
German Production
German consumption
Litres per head
1978
250.3m
303.9m
3.7
1984
266.3m
335.0m
4.1
1990
423.8m
470.1m
5.0
1994
500.2m
558.5m
5.2
1999
431.2m
543.8m
4.9
2000
374.1m
551.6m
4.1
2007
359.6m
413.1m
3.8
SOURCE : DEUTSCHER SEKTVERBAND
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German Sparkling Wine Producers Association puts that
number at 15%, adding that “few care if the motor of a
Peugeot is made in Poland”. When Deutscher Sekt, or
German Sekt, is written on the label, then the sparkling
wine is made only from German grapes, often even Riesling,
but this is only a minute fraction of the market.
That said, there are German sparkling wines that sell for
the price of a good bottle of Champagne. In terms of sheer
quality, Volker Raumland has made a distinctive mark for
himself over the past decade. He is one of 25 members of a
small association that produce sparkling wine only in the
classical bottle fermented fashion.
They, like the three giants, are “working hard to bring
back the good times,” to borrow a phrase from Müller, but
the German DAX index will remain the key to domestic
consumption. At present, few among the nervous consumers
have any cause to pop more corks than they already do. 
THE OTHER
FRENCH FIZZ
French sparkling wine doesn’t always mean
Champagne, says Sophie Kevany. In fact, the
other sparkling wine producers are delighted that
Champagne is doing so well, because it means
more demand for their wines.
*Weinwirtschaft is owned by Meininger Verlag, the publisher
of Meininger’s Wine Business International.
THE THREE MAJOR PLAYERS
1 Henkell & Söhnlein Sektkellereien KG
Biebericher Allee 142, 65187 Wiesbaden, Germany
Phone: +49 6111 630, www.henkell-soenhenlein.de
Turnover: €513.1m
Managing director: Dr. Hans-Henning
Wiegmann
Bottles sold: 204.8m
Market share of German Sekt: 37%
Major brands: Metternich, Henkell trocken,
Deinhard, Kupferberg Gold, Söhnlein Brillant
Henkell & Söhnlein finally became an international player with the acquisition of the
sparkling wine producer Ukrainskoye in Kiev in
2007. Earlier this year, the company added the
Italian producer Mionetto to their portfolio,
which will bring company turnover up to over
€600m, making it the second largest wine
producing company in the world after LVMH.
2 Rotkäppchen-Mumm Sektkellereien GmbH
Sektkellereistrasse 5, 06632 Freyburg, Germany
Phone: +49 34464 340, www.rotkaeppchen.de
Turnover: €371.5m
Managing director: Gunther Heise
Bottles sold: 114.7m
Market share of German Sekt: 20%
Major brands: Geldermann, Mumm,
Rotkäppchen, MM Extra, Kloss & Foerster
This East German company has taken the
West German market by storm, swallowing
Mumm from Seagrams and Geldermann from
Deutz along the way. In 2007 it reported a
turnover of €371.5m. Now that it has added
Eckes’ domestic spirits to its empire, analysts
predict that the company might crack the
€1bn ceiling this year.
3 Sektkellerei Schloss Wachenheim AG
Niederkircher Strasse 27, 54294 Trier, Germany
Phone: +49 651 99880, www.schloss-wachenheim.de
Turnover: €404m
Managing director: Nick Reh
Bottles sold: 256m
Market share of German Sekt: 20%
Major brands: Faber, Schloss Wachenheim,
Feist, Belmont, Nymphenburg
he recent expansion of the
Champagne growing area,
surprisingly, attracted no outrage from makers of other
sparkling French wines who saw it
not as an incursion into their market,
but rather as an increase in the size of
the motor pulling the entire sector
firmly forward.
“All sparkling wines are driven by the
success of Champagne, even Spanish Cava,” says Françoise
Brugière of Viniflhor, France's national wine body. “There
is an image that has been created around bubbles; it is festive, and all fizzy wines have similar packaging, so even a
€1.50 sparkling wine has the same elements as a bottle of
Champagne.” There is nothing fraudulent about this, she
adds. It is simply what people want - the bubbles, the foil,
the wire, the cork that shoots up, plastic or real, and an overall feeling of festiveness. “Even if it is not expensive, when
it’s in the glass it is ‘Champagne’. It’s ersatz, but it all gives
pleasure, and it’s more chic than beer,” says Brugière, offering a potential answer to ever-diminishing beer sales in
France, down by about 3% per year for the last 20 years.
So, given Champagne’s current upward sales trend, it’s
not surprising that French sparkling wines in general have
seen a marked increase in demand over the past few years.
“There has been a 3% to 4% increase in sales in France in
2007,” says Patrick Goven of the Fédération Française des
Vins d'Apéritif (FFVA), the industry body that incorporates
the Syndicat Français des Vins Mousseux (SFVM), or French
Sparkling Wine Syndicate. “Before that, there was a 5% to
6% increase in 2006,” with demand increasing for the entire
range of vins mousseux, or vins effervescent, as they are
known in France.
T
Two types of sparkling
Schloss Wachenheim, based in Trier, sold
255.6m bottles worth €404m in 2007, but at
an average price of only €1.58 per bottle.
Managing director Nick Reh has already indicated that he is raising the average price of a
bottle by as much as 33 cents this year, which
may put dampers on further growth.
46
Sparkling wines fall roughly into two basic categories, the
higher quality ones made from specific grapes grown in
specific regions. These are known in France as Appellation
d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) sparkling wines, or crémants. The
other category is ‘cuves closes’ – because it is made in closed
vats - and this includes Vins Mousseux Nature (VM), or
standard sparkling wines, and Vins Mousseux de Qualité
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“All export markets are growing.
“Champagne used to be the only
The special occasion has become
accepted choice. Sparkling wine
less rare. Champagne is also
growers have now turned the
getting more expensive.”
market around.”
Julien Lepont, export marketing director, Kriter
Mathilde Dudouit, senior market analyst at Mintel
(VMQ), which covers quality sparkling wines. Both VM and
VMQ are made from still wines that are bought, either in
France or other European countries; recently, producers have
been keen to buy from as near as possible given rising transport costs. The main difference between the two is that VMQ
wines have slightly stricter rules, including a minimum
alcohol level of 9 degrees and less flexibility about adding sugar.
The two top producers of VM and VMQ wines are the
Compagnie Francaise des Grands Vins (CFGV), which produces between 75m and 78m bottles of sparkling wine per
year – including some AOC crémants from the Saumur area and Kriter-Patriarche, which produces a total of about 70m
bottles, also including some crémants, mainly from Burgundy.
CFGV says its sales have remained relatively stable for the
last number of years, but Kriter says it is seeing growing
demand, particularly in export markets, which increased by
6% in 2006 and a further 8% in 2007. “All export markets are
growing, but particularly the UK,” says Julien Lepont, Kriter’s
export marketing director, confirming the results of a recent
British study by Mintel, which showed UK sparkling wine
sales up by 44% since 2002. Champagne rose by only 24% over
the same period. “There are two factors at work,” says Lepont.
“The special occasion has become less rare. Now almost any
moment can be a small celebration and Champagne is also
getting more expensive, which leaves a bigger place in the
market for us.”
Mathilde Dudouit, senior market analyst at Mintel, adds a
third factor. “Champagne used to be the only accepted choice,
and sparkling wine was simply seen as a second rate
imitation,” she says, “but sparkling wine growers have now
turned the market around by producing consistently good
quality wines.”
the last few years, and since 2006 the US is our top market,
followed by Germany, Belgium and the UK,” says du
Couëdic. “Japan is also becoming an important market.
We sold less than 100,000 bottles there in 2003 and in
2006 were almost at 300,000. We profit from people's
knowledge of Burgundy, and from our Chardonnay and Pinot
Noir grape varieties and terroir, which produces a fresher
crémant," he added.
For CFGV, which exports 15% of its production, Russia is
the biggest new export customer on the block. However,
French supermarkets remain CFGV’s most important buyer,
taking 85% of its production. Based on the latest figures
from Viniflhor, sales are rising by an estimated 4% to 5%.
Domestic supermarket sales of all sparkling wines, other
than Champagne, for the 12 months of 2006, were worth a
total of €323.1m. Of that, sales of AOC sparkling wines were
up almost 6% on 2005 to €182.8m and VM and VMQ sales
were up 4.4% to €140.3m. In volume terms, AOC, VM and
VMQ made up more than 65% of sparkling wine sales in
supermarkets last year. However, just to put things in context: although demand for all fizzy wines, including
Champagne, increased across the board in 2006 in value
terms, Champagne held 69.3% of the total effervescent market by value. Nonetheless, it fell slightly in volume.
However, with Champagne prices rising rapidly, there can
only be, as Lepont says, yet more place in the market for good,
reasonably priced sparkling wines. There must have been
some cheering in April, therefore, when Krug boldly
announced that it would offer a bottle of Blanc de Noirs
Champagne for between €2,000 and €2,500. With quality fizz

available for 1/500th of that price, who can complain.
Exports of French sparkling wines by value have been on
a steady upward trend since 1996, with €82m ($120m)
worth of exports in 1996, climbing to €118m in 2006. The
most popular export is AOC crémant. The top five markets in
2006 were Germany, Belgium, the US, Switzerland and
Japan, with Germany importing €25.9m and Japan €8m.
By region, the three major producers of crémant are
Alsace, Burgundy and the Loire, but, says Pierre du Couëdic
of the Union des Producteurs et Élaborateurs de Crémant de
Bourgogne (UPECB), Burgundy crémants are the most
exported. “Crémants have developed particularly well over
Largest producers of French sparkling wine by region
Crémant d’Alsace
226,700 hl
Saumur Mousseux
116,900 hl
Crémant de Bourgogne
174,400 hl
Others
367,191 hl
Vouvray mousseux
167,100 hl
Total sparkling
Clairette de Die
159,700 hl
1,211,991 hl
Snapshot of the French market: In France, there are 32 sparkling AOC wines, according to Viniflhor. Only
ten of these are present in 10% of supermarkets. Crémant d'Alsace topped the volume charts, with an
average price of about €4.84. Clairette de Die followed at €5.23. Number three was Saumur at €4.25, number four Vouvray at €4.90 and number five Crémant de Bourgogne, at €5.21 per bottle. Christmas and New
Year sales are intense, with AOC sparkling selling €25.2m worth of wine in the last four weeks of the year,
against a monthly norm of €14m; VM and VMQ sold €15.8m, against the norm of €10.8m.
47
SOURCE : VINIFLHOR
3
Sparkling success
Freixenet, Castellblanch, Segura Viudas, Canals & Nubiola
and Conde de Caralt, Codorníu’s strength traditionally lay in
the domestic market. Although it exported about one third of
its production, Codorníu was finally surpassed by Freixenet
even on the domestic market a couple of years ago.
Freixenet, owned by the Ferrer family, produced an
estimated 13.8m cases of Cava last year. With a market
share of 56%, it is the biggest player in the Cava game. In
fact, with sales of €520m ($761m), Freixenet is one of the
five largest sparkling wine producers in the world, of which
Spanish sales of still and non-Cava sparkling accounted for
€365m. The group also owns Yvon Mau in Bordeaux, and
Henri Abelé in Champagne, plus Gloria Ferrer, USA, Sala
Vivé, Mexico, and Viento Sur, Argentina, as well as 60% of
the Wingara Wine Group in Australia.
Nevertheless, Freixenet sales are stagnating, largely due
to declining Cava shipments to Germany, according to Bernd
Halbach, director of Freixenet’s export department. The
German branch of the company reorganised its distribution
after Eckes, which for many years distributed the leading
brands there, sold its wine and spirits department to
Freixenet’s major competitor, Rotkäppchen-Mumm.
Codorníu, producing about 4.7m cases of Cava, including
low-price brands like Rondel and Delapierre, is number two
in the business. The Raventos family’s company is also one
of the big players in the Spanish still wine business. With
Masía Bach, from Penedés, Raimat from Costers del Segre,
Scala Dei from Priorato, Legaris from Ribera del Duero,
Nuviana from Aragón, Abadía de Poblet from Tarragona and
Bodegas Bilbainas from Rioja, the group has a presence
in many of the most important Spanish quality wine regions.
Septima in Argentina is, so far, their only investment
outside Spain.
Number three on the list is Carcía Carrións, which
although behind, has ambitious growth plans, with its
sparkling Jaume Serra already selling more than 5m bottles
annually. Some medium size producers like Vallformosa,
Marquès de Monistrol, Castillo de Perelada, Covides S.C. and
Juvé y Camps bottle between 2m to 5m bottles per year each.
The rest of the 271 registered Cava producers are small,

family owned wineries.
CAVA, THE
SPANISH SPARKLING
Spain has only been making bubbly since the
1850s, making it a newcomer in European terms.
And yet its Cava, from grapes unknown outside
Spain, is consumed by happy customers all over
the world, finds Jürgen Mathäß.
ava, which originates from
Catalonia in Spain, has in a
short period of time undoubtedly become one of the most
important sparkling wines
in the world, now representing 10.4% of the global
sparkling market.
C
Cava explained
By law, Cava must be produced in the
classical fashion, formerly known as ‘methode champenoise’. While the traditional grape varieties - Catalonia’s
Parrelada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo - are still widely used, two
emerging tendencies are beginning to undermine the old
style. First, since the 1990s, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
have been allowed to enter the blend. Although only used in
small quantities for standard wines, they are now key components in high-end Cava from brands like Sumarroca, Canals y
Munné, Codorníu, Gramona and Raventos y Blanc. Secondly,
Cavas and sparklings produced outside Catalonia have grown in
importance over the past three years as political agitation
and a campaign to boycott Catalonian products have helped
producers in other Spanish regions to more than double
their sales. Still, their market share remains below 5%.
In 2007, slightly over 20m 9-litre cases of Cava were
made, of which 56% were exported. Germany, which bought
41m bottles in 2007, is by far the largest client for Cava,
followed by the UK with 32.7m and the US with 14.4m.
Belgium and Luxembourg are both expanding markets,
which drank 6.2m bottles last year between them, but the
growing export markets in Britain, France and Belgium have
failed to compensate for the losses in the German market
over the past five years, down 14m bottles since 2002.
Spain’s own consumption is more or less stable at about
100m bottles, most of which is sold in Catalonia, still the
origin of more than 95% of all Spanish cava.
4
Two big players
The production, sales and marketing of Cava is dominated
by two companies, Freixenet and Codorníu, which between
them control more than 75% of production. While Freixenet
traditionally dominated the export markets with its brands
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Cava’s meteoric evolution
Year
in ‘000 bottles
Export in %
1977
73,035
7.5%
1982
98,925
18.1%
1987
129,670
31.3%
1992
130,612
34.7%
1997
175,770
49.8%
2002
205,089
52.8%
2007
224,950
56.3%
SOURCE : MEININGER’S WINE BUSINESS INTERNATIONAL
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5
UNRAVELLING
ITALIAN SPUMANTE
Raising Freixenet’s brand image
INTERVIEW WITH BERND HALBACH
Bernd Halbach
Bernd Halbach, Freixenet’s director of
exports, has a clear understanding
not only of the global sparkling wine
market, but also of Cava’s place
within it. The company’s multi-million
dollar YouTube and viral advertising,
using the likes of Kim Basinger and
Sharon Stone, prove that Freixenet
understands marketing as well.
It wouldn’t suit the Italian temperament to make
anything easy, much less its sparkling wines.
Under the catch-all word ‘spumante’ go different
styles of wines from a variety of regions, made
from a range of grapes, explains Franco Ziliani.
t isn’t easy to describe Italian
sparkling wine to a foreign
audience. In fact, the correct
word, ‘spumanti’, like the
French term ‘mousseux’, is an
unpractical, often even unsuitable word.
On the one hand, this is true
because producers often refuse
to call their wines spumante,
preferring instead to emphasise
the denomination of their bubbles, as with the historic model of
Champagne. This happens in Franciacorta,
the home of the ‘little Italian Champagne’,
capital of méthode champenoise and the area of
Italy with the most distinctive sparkling wine profile. Some
8.3m bottles worth over €80m ($117m)were produced there
last year. Much the same is also true of Trentino, where some
7.9m bottles of similar value saw the light of day.
On the other hand, the word ‘spumanti’ is also impractical
since it has become a catch-all phrase, which Italians, true to
their individualistic nature, have used to cover everything. A
simple term like Cava for the sparkling metodo classico made
here would have been much too easy.
I
Meininger’s: If you look at the worldwide sparkling market,
are you excited or worried?
Halbach: The market has been growing over the last two
years. Global sparkling sales now total some 180m cases and the growth is in the higher prices. In the US, Great
Britain and Japan, the premium segment is growing fast –
more than 10% per year. While Champagne is up 20%, Cava
has risen by only 2%. But the more expensive Cavas are
growing faster, too. It seems that consumers have been
looking for more occasions to drink a good sparkling wine.
As people are willing to spend more money on higher quality
products like Champagne, we might develop styles of Cava
approaching this flavour profile, for example by using more
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We also want to raise the image
of our Freixenet brand.
Meininger’s: Making Freixenet Cava more like Champagne?
Halbach: No, raising the image does not mean trying to be
like Champagne. We do not want to copy. Champagne is
a very exclusive product. We want to step closer to the
consumer, but without losing what we already have. The
Freixenet brand is rooted in the Mediterranean, with its
positive associations such as sunshine and a spontaneous
life style. Our new international print campaign focuses on
the idea of ‘unplan’ the moment and will signal nature,
cosmopolitan feelings, fun and the stylish life.
Meininger’s: Does the word ‘Cava’ itself play an important
part in this?
Halbach: Freixenet is Cava, but the sparkling market is
brand oriented. Consumers are not interested in details like
varieties and origin. We will not promote the word Cava.
Meininger’s: Germany is your most important export
market. Where else will you concentrate your campaign?
Halbach: We still sell more than 40m bottles in Germany,
our most important market, but had to reorganise our distribution there. Germany is also very important for our still
wine brand, Mederaño, with 4m bottles sold. Thereafter
follows the US with 8m bottles for the brand Freixenet and
Great Britain with 4m, but we are also focussing on markets
like India and China, where we have opened our own offices.
I believe that the Asian markets will keep worldwide
sparkling sales growing.
Spumanti’s many regions
In Italy, classical spumanti using Champagne as the
role model are produced throughout the country, from
Piedmont, where the denomination Alta Langa has taken
hold in recent years, to Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese,
which have the largest vineyard areas of Pinot Noir, to Alto
Adige, and even to the Veneto, where Prosecco is normally
the king - and none of this includes the other classically
produced sparkling wines, often from indigenous grapes,
which hail from Gavi down to the regions of Marche, Puglia
and Campania. Then there are the blends made from grapes
grown in Franciacorta, Trentino and Oltrepò Pavese
produced by the likes of Guido Berlucchi or Ferrari, two of
Italy’s leading producers, each of which sells approximately
5m bottles a year. Although an attempt was made years ago
with the introduction of Talento to give them all a common
name so that consumers could easily distinguish sparkling
wines from still ones, even within a given geographical area,
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S PA R K L I N G W I N E
it famously flopped. Consequently, the catch all term
spumanti for méthode champenoise covers some 21m bottles,
but this is a group of profoundly different wines whose total
volume has not changed appreciably over the past 20 years.
The large majority of the almost 300m bottles of sparkling
wine produced in Italy each year, up from only 120m in 1997,
are made by the Charmat method, or Metodo Martiniotti, as
some with a typical Italian sense of pride prefer to call it.
These are quite different from the méthode champenoise in
the variety of grapes used, product obtained and price, but
are also called spumanti.
pleasant and widely available, but also not particularly
expensive. Further, they are also supported by welldesigned marketing campaigns, including a Prosecco in a
can boasting a scantily clad Paris Hilton! Not surprisingly,
almost 60% of the 70m bottles of Prosecco and nearly 85% of
the 85m bottles of Asti Spumante produced each year are
exported to numerous foreign markets.
On the other hand, wines like Franciacorta, Trento and
Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero Spumante that are favoured by
the cognoscenti are having difficulty affirming themselves
on the world market. As a category, little
more than 5% of the ‘metodo classico’ is
exported. This is certainly not due to the
quality of these products, which are impeccable, but the fact that they tend to
compete with Champagne and upmarket
Cava in price, without the international
prestige. Further, in Great Britain and the
US in particular, sparkling wines from the
New World produced in joint ventures
with famous Champagne houses provide
stiff competition.
It is therefore not mistaken to say that
many of these Italian sparkling wines
are destined for local consumption.
Indeed, it is impossible to imagine
drinking a Blanc de Morgex outside
the Valle d’Aosta - and this reduced
distribution places limits on their
ambitions, rendering many wines

‘provincial’ and nothing more.
Even more spumanti
Franciacorta DOCG and Trento DOC are certainly
sparkling wines, but Asti DOCG from Moscato grapes is also
a full fledged spumanti, as are Prosecco DOC from
Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, Cartizze and even generic
Prosecco, all obtained from slightly aromatic Prosecco grapes
from Marca Trevigiana in the Northeast. Brachetto d’Acqui
from Piedmont is another sparkling wine, as can be many
other DOCs, especially among the whites.
It therefore quickly becomes evident that spumanti covers
a vast, differentiated population that has something to offer
for all tastes, from dry to sweet sparkling wines, from neutral to
full-blown aromatic wines - and even sparkling wines such
as Brachetto d’Acqui and Malvasia of Castelnuovo Don
Bosco, made from red grapes. This is true both in terms of
image as well as international commercialisation.
In fact, sparkling wines such as Asti and Prosecco have
undeniable appeal and are enjoying far greater success in
many foreign markets. They are not only well-made,
6
Italy’s leading sparkling wine producers
7 Cá del Bosco from Franciacorte
Company
Main Product
‘000 bottles
Martini & Rossi
Asti Spumante
31,000
Fratelli Gancia
Pinot Spumante
25,000
Campari
Asti Spumante
23,000
Fratelli Martini
Asti Spumante
16,000
Barbero
Asti Spumante
7,000
Valdo
Prosecco
5,500
Carpene Malvotí
Prosecco
5,000
Cantina Valdobbiadene Prosecco
5,000
La Versa
Oltrepo Pavese
4,900
Ferrari
Trento
4,700
Berlucchi
Metodo Classico
4,400
Mionetto
Prosecco
4,300
Fontanafredda
Asti Spumante
4,000
SOURCE : SPUMANTI D’ITALIA
4/08 MEININGER’S WBI
R E G I O N A L A N A LY S I S
50
With only 40 years of history, a production that has reached 1.2m bottles and
150 hectares of vineyards, Cà del Bosco
is a good example of why Franciacorta
has had such a serious influence on the Italian sparkling wine
scene. Originally conceived as a country buen retiro in the hills
of Erbusco for a wild young man from Milan who had no real
winemaking experience, the company has grown over the years
one step at a time, and today produces 2.5% of all metodo
classico in Italy, of a quality that pits itself against the finest
Champagnes. Maurizio Zanella, 52 years old this year, remains
the driving force, even after the powerful Santa Margherita
group became part of the company’s management. Three quarters of Cà del Bosco’s production is sparkling Franciacorta, all of
which are bottle matured for at least 24 months, rising to even
60 months in the case of wines such as Cuvée Annamaria
Clementi Zanella, the apex of Italian metodo classico production.
These wines have provided some unexpected surprises in blind
tastings, demonstrating that the production process and choice
of grapes is perhaps more important than pedigree.