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Moët & Chandon has seen the steepest price increase of 6.4%

Brits are paying more for sparkling wine after prices surged over the past year, exclusive data reveals.

The average price per litre of many of the UK’s bestselling sparkling wine brands has risen significantly over the past 12 months, with Moët & Chandon seeing the steepest increase of 6.4% (£2.52) to £41.70 [Nielsen 52 w/e 20 April 2019].

This is followed by Veuve Cliquot, whose price is up 3.7% (£1.65) to £46.66. Freixenet, meanwhile, has seen the third-steepest increase, of 6.4% (72p) to £11.92.

Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Miles Beale lays the blame squarely on the government’s decision to raise wine duty in line with inflation back in October - while freezing duty for beer and spirits.

“Wine prices in general are at an all-time high as a result of the Chancellor singling out wine for an unfair duty increase in last October’s Budget,” he says. “Sparkling wine attracts the highest level of duty, at £2.86 - plus VAT - on a bottle of fizz, a third higher than the £2.23 duty plus VAT UK consumers pay on a bottle of still wine.”

He calls prices rises “a direct result of the government’s refusal to back the UK’s wine industry at a time when they are facing a particularly tough trading landscape following Brexit’s impact on the pound combined with rising inflation.

“Government need to be reminded that wine is the nation’s favourite alcoholic drink and its draconian duty rates are adding unfair taxes on the treats enjoyed by consumers from all walks of life.”

However, Speciality Drinks head buyer Dawn Davies says: “This is not a new trend. With champagne what we’ve seen as a general rule is that every year prices have gone up and there don’t really seem to be any concrete reasons.

“[Producers] say poor harvests or short harvests, but I think the reality is they are just putting prices up. But what they don’t realise is every time they do this they make things easier for the guys at the low end of the market.”

Freixenet Copestick MD Robin Copestick suggests “less deep promotional activity” played a role, too.

“Which in my opinion is a good thing,” he stresses. “The pricing is more realistic and sustainable at the moment.”

And it wasn’t all rises. I Heart’s sparkling wines - owned by Freixenet Copestick - dipped 3% (33p) to an average of £9.86 per litre over the year [Nielsen].

As our Britain’s Biggest Alcohol Brands report reveals, sales of champagne brands are falling: Lanson, Moët & Chandon and Veuve Cliquot are down 7.1%, 10.4% and 6% respectively - that’s a combined loss of £8.5m between them. Of the UK’s biggest champagnes, only Taittinger grew, adding a cool £5m to its value this year [Nielsen].