It’s official: Australia loves champagne

Australia’s love affair with champagne continues, popping the second largest number of bottles in history in 2016, according to an announcement made by the Comité Champagne at Prowein in Germany overnight.

Australia holds its position as the seventh largest champagne market on earth and fifth largest per head of population, with 7.4 million bottles landing in 2016, narrowly missing its all-time record of 8.1 million in 2015.

These figures reveal the first drop in Australia’s champagne consumption since the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2009.

“Australia’s 2016 champagne sales could hardly be considered as a decline,” says Tyson Stelzer, author of The Champagne Guide and host of the Taste Champagne event series. “An exceptional sales record in 2015 was an anomaly, and 2016 figures perfectly fit Australia’s buoyant growth curve, popping an average of 600,000 more bottles every year since 2009.”

These results confirm the recent trend of Australian drinkers turning away from beer and cheap sparkling wine in favour of more premium cuvées from the Champagne region in France.

Champagne sold 306.1 million bottles globally in 2016, marginally less than its post-GFC record of 312.5 million bottles in 2015. The biggest growth markets for champagne in 2016 were Mexico (up 31%), New Zealand (29%), Russia (22%), South Africa (22%), South Korea (16%) and Canada (12%).

Despite this small decline in volume of sales, the average value per bottle of champagne sold globally in 2016 rose by 1.5%.

“The diversification of cuvées is continuing in 2016: 8.6% more bottles of champagne rosé have been shipped than in the previous year, and prestige cuvées show an increase of 4.6%,” said Comité Champagne Communications Director Thibaut Le Mailloux. “Champagne consumers turn to ever rarer and more prestigious cuvées.”

Australia missed this trend toward increased value in 2016, maintaining the same average bottle price as 2015, 7% lower than the average over the past 15 years.

“Of Champagne’s top ten markets, Australia ranks lowest in proportion of rosé consumed, lowest in grower champagne and second-lowest in prestige champagne,” reveals Stelzer. “Our per bottle spend remains one of the lowest in the world.”

Australia's champagne imports 1999-2016

Tyson Stelzer will host Taste Champagne, Australia’s biggest champagne event series, to showcase the diversity of more than 160 cuvées from more than 50 champagne houses in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne in August 2017. www.tastechampagne.com.au