Boy, what a difference a few years make when it comes to the bubbly. The recession from hell has put most of us in a decidedly non-champagne mood - and the industry is feeling it bigtime. Just two years ago there wasn't enough of the high-priced stuff to go around. We're talking $500-a-bottle stuff. No longer. From the WSJ magazine:
Stanislas Henriot, president of his family's esteemed champagne house, Henriot, says the appellation will survive, but also admits, "It's been brutal." According to one of the biggest distributors in the United States, sales are off 50 percent for the basic stuff , and down 85 percent for the fancy. You know things are bad when distributors to cork-popping stalwarts like strip clubs and hip-hop joints are happy with a 15 percent chop in consumption. And it's everywhere around the globe, according to Henriot: "We have seen the drop in all markets."
Roberta Morrell, who over the years has sold Olympic amounts of Veuve Clicquot's Grande Dame, Dom Pérignon and Louis Roederer's Cristal at Morrell & Company, her store in Manhattan, says sales are dismal. Vintage champagne, that age-worthy wine where the grapes come from a single year, isn't moving at all. Nonvintage champagne, in which the grapes from several seasons are blended, still sells now and then, but nothing over $45. "Lily Bollinger had a great line," Morrell says. "'I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad.' People in America don't get the sad part."