Updated: May 22, 2020
Translated from French by Alison Hughes (alisonhughes-translations.co.uk)
Author: Audrey Delbarre
French version published on national magazine Génération Vignerons: click here
Drinking goes online
For some of us lockdown has been an excuse to take a step back and put life on hold. Many of us are using this time to reflect, clean, tidy, have a clear out, do some DIY or express our creativity in all sorts of ways. With live videos, webinars and online drinks (the e-apéro) we’ve come up with lots of new ways to occupy our days. We can’t see friends and family in person so we’ve been taking to our screens at apéro time to clink glasses with them virtually. We’re sharing recipes and food and wine pairings and talking about the great local products we’ve discovered.
Might this be a sign that we’re going back to basics and enjoying one of the simple pleasures in life, good food and drink? The perfect excuse to experiment more with food and wine pairings...
Celebrations are on ice and some drinks are faring better than others
But have we really put our lives on ice along with the bubbly? There’s not much to celebrate with weddings, first communions and family meals for Easter Sunday and Mother’s day cancelled. Blame the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in Europe. Certainly in Belgium nobody is in the mood for celebrating with bubbly but alcohol consumption has increased all the same. Le Soir magazine has reported an increase in supermarket wine sales, as high as up to 20% for BIB.
Are people stocking up so they can turn their long lockdown evenings into fun online drinks parties? France’s supermarket sales have increased too but not across all categories. No doubt because of the particularly nice weather during lockdown and the new trend for online drinks, sales of beer and rosé have risen considerably, by 6.9% and 3.2% respectively according to the magazine La Revue des Vins de France (LRVF). The news is not so rosy for Champagne and sparkling wine with sales in freefall, down 52.5% for Champagne (LRVF study from 13 to 29 March) and 28.8% in the sparkling wine category. Maybe it’s time to pop a bottle into your cart the next time you shop?
What are you waiting for?
How about chilling at home with a cool bottle of bubbly to celebrate this long-awaited moment of pause and self-reflection? What are you waiting for? Something tells me we’re all looking forward to the day we hear the familiar pop of a cork as the pressure releases from the bottle. Speaking of pressure, some of you will already have taken advantage of these rather strange times to let it go and enjoy the moment. You’re starting to cook again and filling your days with lovely meal and wine pairings while others are looking for inventive solutions in the daily battle to save their company. The wine business is doing its bit for society, offering home deliveries, online ordering and mix-and-match shipments via a plethora of sponsored social media ads.
Spotlight on three businesses in the wine industry who’ve adapted to the new normal
Timothée Coisne runs four wine stores in Lille and the Saint Omer region under the name he created 23 years ago, Monsieur Vin:
''When the government authorised wine stores to continue to operate we very quickly set up a Click & Collect system for online orders to be collected at the store. We also offer home delivery. When we changed the system at first, we received a lot of online and telephone orders from customers then gradually, day by day and week by week, the trend reversed. At one of our stores Thierry, the manager, reported sales last Saturday that were close to those of a Saturday in early December. BIBs are flying off the shelves, as are bottles of wine under €15. But we’re selling very little Champagne with other sparkling wines such as Prosecco and Crémant proving to be more popular with customers.''
Over the border in Belgium, Chant d’Eole, a recently-established winery whose Cuvée Prestige 2014 was named the 2019 International Revelation Sparkling Wine at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in Aigle (Switzerland), has adapted to the situation:
"The cancellation of events such as weddings, christenings, team building days and seminars at the estate freed up a quantity of bottles. We offered them for home delivery to private customers and ambassadors and, as a result, Belgium couldn’t get enough of our 2017 cuvées. So we’re out of stock again and are currently launching pre-orders for the 2018 Cuvée which will be released in September." says Martin Frise, Head of Marketing and Communications at Chant d’Eole in Quévy-le-Grand (Belgium).
The vines continue to grow. Mother Nature is not waiting for the end of lockdown:
“After lengthy work in the vines this spring, we’re returning to the winery to prepare for a new rosé sparkling wine to add a touch of sparkle and escapism to our customers’ lives. At the end of April we launched the second fermentation and shared on Facebook a video of us adding the mixture of water, sugar and yeast known as the liqueur de tirage. The delightful bubbles of our Crémant de Loire will be a revelation. Meanwhile, we’ve adapted by offering a home delivery service,” explains Laëtitia Huet, the passionate winemaker who has taken over Château Piéguë in Rochefort-sur-Loire in the heart of the Loire Valley.
The second fermentation is launched live on Facebook at Château Piéguë, Val de Loire – link here
Time to chill with a glass of bubbly?
Article & interviews realized by Audrey Delbarre, for Génération Vignerons & La Petite Nénette, tailored services around seminars, trainings, holidays, senses development activities around wine (www.lapetitenenette.com)