Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Monday, December 6 2021

Champagne Annual 2022

By: Treve Ring
Our annual catalog of champagnes tasted this year.

No, the world won’t run out of champagne.

But it might feel like it this year. The global supply chain has many broken links, and the cumulative effects have been domino-tipping disastrous. From glass supply (currently up to one year in arrears) to sourcing cardboard shipping boxes (‘only’ 3-6 months’ delay), not to mention port closures, freight fare increases, a shortage in shipping containers, trucking transportation challenges and driver shortages, and Covid-19 mandates for distancing and limiting workers.

There are numerous reports around North America of champagne being rationed, which is certainly not fuelling festivities. I was at one of downtown Toronto’s top LCBO stores a few weeks back, one where I have revelled in the selection of champagnes in previous years, only to see a literal handful of brands on the shelves. One of their employees told me that I had better stock up now since they had no idea if / when any more product was due to land. If one of the world’s largest and most powerful wine buyers and retailers is running out, that’s somewhat alarming. 

As if the 2021 vintage in Champagne wasn’t problematic enough. The region was levelled by the worst spring frosts of the last twenty years, pummeled with hail which affected approximately 500 hectares (some of which were wiped out) and drenched with severe downpours throughout. Unfortunately, due to all this moisture, interspersed with mild weather, there was a widespread attack of mildew and powdery mildew, along with autumnal botrytis. Growers on chalky soils were afforded some drainage, though sites on heavy clays turned into slurry swamps.

At least the harvest itself was quick and focused, beginning in the Côte des Bars on September 6 and finishing on September 27 after a week of clear skies and a flurry of picking. Even though quantity is certainly reduced, initial reports across the entire region are that quality is strong. 

Of course, since champagne is based on a reserve system, there is certainly ample cellaring stock on hand to ensure the world’s supply in future years. The world is drinking. Champagne sales are surging back to near what they were before the pandemic hampered sales and kept people away from group celebrations. Reports from the General Syndicate of Champagne Winegrowers show that the reopening of global bubbly markets is expected to drive sales to an estimated 305 million bottles worldwide in 2021, which is an increase over pre-pandemic numbers of 297.6 million bottles in 2019. 

Perhaps people are starting to feel like life is worth celebrating, now more than ever. I, an affirmed champagne advocate, couldn’t agree more. So if you want your holiday season to include champagne, it’s worthwhile stocking up early. We’ve sourced and tasted more than 70 champagnes this year for the Champagne Annual and hope you’ll be able to seek out your ideal bottles to toast with this season and throughout 2022. Photo credit: Tristan Gassert.

Written By: TR
Treve Ring
Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a writer, editor, judge, consultant, educator and certified sommelier based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. After completing her Art History degree with Distinction from the University of Victoria and being exposed to the world of wine business at Christie's in London, England, she switched gears, leaving the realm of art for the world of wine.