Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Organic Champagne making a slow fizz into glasses

AFP, REIMS, France

Even if the Champagne region does not yet embrace organic farming widely, it has been reducing its use of chemicals. Over the past 15 years, the region has cut the use of nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides by half, according to the Comite Champagne, the trade association for the 300 Champagne houses and 15,000 winemakers.

And in 2014, it launched its own certification of “sustainable viticulture,” specially tailored to the Champagne region.

So far, more than 4,000 hectares out of the region’s 34,000 hectares have received the certification.

Nevertheless, few of the big Champagne houses appear to be in any rush to go organic.

Lecaillon said those who did must be ready to accept that “in certain years, they could lose 10, 20 or even 30 percent of the harvest,” without the help of chemical fertilisers and treatments.

But it’s not just a question of “economic short-termism” that is preventing Champagne houses from going green, Lecaillon said.

Since most large Champagne houses buy much of their grapes from growers, those growers would be required to go organic too.

Consumers, too, have little leverage to pressure producers into going green, because organic Champagnes are still a niche market and are rarely seen on supermarket shelves.

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