Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, December 7 2023

Champagne Annual 2024

By: Treve Ring
Our largest ever, with more than 120 Champagne reviews.

The bubble hasn’t exactly burst for Champagne, but it’s certainly lost some pressure this year.

After two years of record growth and barren shelves, Champagne sales and exports have fallen in 2023, pinched by global inflation and grappling with global political instability.

According to Comité Champagne (CIVC), sales are expected to reach around 314 million bottles in 2023. That’s compared with 326 million sold in 2022. Halfway through 2023, the drop in sales was most dramatic in the domestic market, with France seeing a decline of 6.3%, while exports saw a decrease of 3.7%. 

This led to the CIVC capping this year’s harvest at 11,400 kg/ha, roughly the equivalent of 326 million bottles. That’s a drop of 5% from 2022, when yields were capped at 12,000 kg/ha, a rise of almost 14% on 2021. However, they did up the reserve wine allotment from 8,000 kg/ha to 10,000 kg/ha, allowing growers to store wines for future years’ blends. 

According to David Chatillon, co-president of the CIVC, “To determine the available yield for the year, winegrowers and houses have agreed on shipping forecasts for the next four years that take into account both our confidence in the appellation, and a certain caution with regards to the global economic situation and the effects of inflation.”

Ironically, while sales were down, the crop was way up in 2023. Record bunch weights were recorded this year, averaging 225 grams, nearly 30% heavier than the previous record (175 grams in 2005). This was thanks to a calm spring with little frost damage, followed by a generous flowering period at the beginning of June. However, some late summer rains bloated the berries and sticky heat spells created ideal conditions for grey rot (botrytis) and sour rot, meaning the harvest, officially opened September 2, had to be quick and precise. A heatwave during the first week of September, reaching upwards of 35°C , compounded these issues, making sorting and resorting, essential for harvest 2023. 

According to the CIVC, approximately 120,000 seasonal workers are needed for the Champagne harvest, and most are paid by the kilogram, not by the hour. Understandably, encouraging them all to sort the grapes carefully for quality can be tricky. Tragically, four workers’ deaths were attributed to the heatwaves and working conditions over harvest. This was amidst a developing story of human trafficking investigations after the French government shut down four squalor grape picker accommodation sites in the region. 

It stands to reason that overall the smaller growers will have better control and results from 2023, with a more hands-on approach to harvest and attention to detail that will be necessary. Employing additional sorters, adjusting picking times (cooler, early morning hours), and investing more in human resources is hopefully something the larger houses and co.ops will also do more of, learning from this year. Respect for the grapes, and the people that harvest them, is imperative. 

Of course, Champagne has seen much worse times, and emerged victorious. While I doubt we’ll see many vintage 2023 Champagnes on the market in coming years, and we hope we don’t find too many rot-affected NV blends, we trust that the Champenois will continue to caretake for their very significant, singular region and unparalleled sparkling legacy. 

*One small bonus to the Champagne sales slump is that finally bottles are on the shelves here in Canada, and you can find them!

Here are the Champagnes tasted in 2023, in alphabetical order. For our Sparkling Report, with 140 more reviews, click here.

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.