Champagne on the Rocks

So the title sounds misleading and ridiculous to you?Before shaking your head in disbelief,read on.Yes,its true.The recent launch of Moet et Chandon Ice Imperial (owned by the LVMH group) is by far the only Champagne suggested to be served chilled not the conventional way, but having it on cubes of ice.

There are very few brands in the wine world which can truly boast of being global and Champagne is certainly one of them.I dare say brand because the name ‘Champagne’ has certainly become bigger than the region and the namesake wine that is produced there.A consumer might not know that the sparkling wine is a protected name coming from a designated region located in France,but tell them that the wine has bubbles and their first guess is a name beginning with the letter ‘C’.(not Cava at least at this stage even if it is easier to pronounce;))

So what is the point that I am trying to make here?France is well recognised for the world class wines that it has been producing for centuries now.But it is also lesser-known (using the word ill-famous won’t be an exaggeration) for the ways in which it believes to be the sole producer of quality wines.So what is a traditional market leader (that too French) in this wine category trying to achieve through such an innovation?Does it not qualify to be phrased ‘shooting oneself in the foot’?Maybe not.Consider a few facts which might be the cause of taking such a step:

1. The LVMH group with its offering in the wine category is one of the biggest Champagne houses in the world with a portfolio of brands that nobody can match.

2. The sales of champagne went down considerably during the economic downturn and are yet to recover fully.Articles published during that time are proof of the same.

3. Sparkling wine as a category now includes names such as Cava,Prosecco,Sekt and the French Cremant which have certainly supplemented the sparkling wine category with much more options than what the consumer originally had in the name of champagne.Add to the list the competition from the so called New World countries which are constantly churning out good wines to make a name for themselves.

Given the above factors,it makes sense for a company the size of LVMH to innovate and come ahead and restore the popularity of this wine category.On the other hand,there could be some adverse effects associated with an exclusive yet risky proposition such as this.

1. Champagne as a drink goes beyond just being a wine and has for years been the epitome of celebrations and special occasions.With such a strong association,few drinkers might get averse to the idea that it is a mere spritz in the glass.Thus,the bubbles lose their fizz in the minds of a few happy souls!

2. Also,what about the purists who are very particular about wine service standards especially the temperature and glassware?Will this Pinot Noir dominated blend go down their throats easily?

3. And most importantly,from the point of view of the brand,is this the image that they want to convey to their consumers?What about the stylish,classy, the connoisseur wine image that it has enjoyed for years.Can this be easily given up in the name of being different?And if other producers are to follow suit,then what would be the long-term implications of such an innovation.

Okay,the group is promoting it as a fun,informal drink while chilling out by the beach but doesn’t it dilute the image of such a prestigious brand just like the ice cubes do to the wine when they melt in your glass?Or is it just another Non-Vintage Champagne dressed beautifully in a white bottle with some sexy gilding to reach record sales as was the case a few years ago?More reactions and sales figures would decide whether there would be another version of this product in the future.Until then,the wine would be sold through very selected channels (only on-trade) and if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on this,please feel free to leave a comment regarding your experience in the box below.


About prateekarora

Wine marketer & communicator; food fanatic with an appetite for all the palatable things in the world Part-time guitarist too.
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