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  • Champagne is synonymous with wealth and luxury.

  • It often costs double the price of other sparkling wines,

  • such as prosecco or cava.

  • A decent-quality bottle of it can cost you

  • anywhere from $50 to $300,

  • and vintages can often sell for thousands.

  • So, what makes Champagne so expensive?

  • Champagne is often used

  • as a generic term for sparkling wine.

  • But, in fact, Champagne is only true Champagne

  • if it's made here, in Champagne.

  • About 150 kilometers east of Paris,

  • this highly protected region of France

  • is home to the world's most prestigious, and expensive,

  • Champagne sellers and cellars,

  • such as Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët.

  • All other sparkling wines made outside of this region,

  • even those from neighboring parts of France,

  • must be labeled differently.

  • Which means, in this relatively small area,

  • a little over twice the size of San Francisco,

  • the world's entire stock of true Champagne is made.

  • That's over 300 million bottles every year,

  • with an annual revenue of over $5 billion.

  • Champagne sales have grown steadily since the 1950s,

  • but its future growth depends

  • on the protection of the region's unique climate.

  • Northern France's variable conditions

  • are the first factor for elevated prices.

  • With an average temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit,

  • this location is cooler

  • than France's other wine-growing regions,

  • which gives the grapes the right acidity

  • for sparkling-wine production.

  • However, an often-freezing continental weather front

  • makes the winemaking process more difficult

  • than other dependable ecosystems.

  • Narrator: During harvest, 120,000 workers

  • descend on Champagne

  • to pick grapes from 84,000 acres of vines.

  • Narrator: Authentic Champagne is produced

  • via thethode champenoise,

  • where the wine undergoes a primary fermentation

  • in oak or stainless-steel vats

  • and a secondary fermentation inside the bottle.

  • This method is controlled and restricted

  • within the European Union,

  • so that wines from outside the Champagne region

  • cannot be described as Champagne.

  • However, wines from all over the world

  • are produced in exactly the same way

  • and instead are labeled as sparkling wine,

  • produced via thethode traditionnelle.

  • Some winemakers in countries outside of the EU

  • ignore European labeling laws altogether

  • and continue to produce sparkling wine

  • bearing the Champagne name.

  • These imitations are constantly challenged

  • by the Comité Champagne,

  • which works with more than 80 lawyers worldwide

  • to protect the authentic Champagne brand.

  • Ultimately, despite similarities in production

  • and possibly taste, only true Champagne

  • comes with the history and prestige of the region.

  • Champagne production dates back to the third century,

  • when the Romans first planted vineyards

  • in northeastern France.

  • During the mid-17th century,

  • with the development of bottled fermentation,

  • Champagne officially became a sacred drink

  • when it was served at the king's courts

  • during the accession of Louis XIV.

  • However, the carbon dioxide gas,

  • which built up inside these early bottles,

  • often caused them to explode in the cellars.

  • Therefore, great efforts went into ridding the wine

  • of its bubbles.

  • But, by the 19th century, the sparkling version of Champagne

  • had grown in popularity,

  • especially among the rich and royalty.

  • As the large Champagne houses optimized mass production

  • of sparkling Champagne

  • with the development of thicker glass and corks,

  • the modern Champagne industry began to form.

  • Amazingly, despite the region becoming a key battlefield

  • during both World War I and World War II,

  • some Champagne production still continued.

  • It's estimated that by the end of the Great War,

  • about 40% of Champagne's vineyards had been destroyed.

  • Because of the cutback in production,

  • bottles made during either war fetch a high price.

  • In 2015, Sotheby's auctioned a Krug cellar visit

  • and a tasting of their wartime 1915 vintage

  • for $116,000.

  • Champagne's affiliation with luxury, wealth, and celebrity

  • has kept prices high, from crowning kings

  • [cork pops] [applause and laughter]

  • to launching great ships. [horn blowing]

  • Even Jay-Z has gotten in on the action.

  • In 2014, he became part-owner of Armand de Brignac,

  • also known as "Ace of Spades,"

  • a Champagne brand run by the Cattier family.

  • In September 2019, they released their rarest,

  • priciest cuvée yet, comprised of three vintages,

  • from 2009, 2010, and 2012.

  • The wine was left to age for six years until the bottles,

  • only 3,535 of them, were made available

  • for a cool $1,000 per bottle.

  • But what about the future?

  • Champagne became the world's first wine-growing region

  • to examine its carbon footprint and implement a carbon plan,

  • as a result of worrying statistics.

  • Global warming has seen temperatures in the region rise

  • by 1.2 degrees Celsius over the last 30 years,

  • and the grape harvest dates

  • have moved forward by a fortnight.

  • As Champagne's perfect climatic conditions are changing

  • and the Paris accord climate targets

  • fail to keep up with global warming,

  • the future of winemaking in this historic region

  • could be in jeopardy.

Champagne is synonymous with wealth and luxury.

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Why Champagne Is So Expensive | So Expensive

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    Naphtali posted on 2019/10/21
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