Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

The real price of champagne

Talking on Sunday to Damien Chauvet of Champagne Henri Chauvet, a good producer at Rilly-la-Montagne, I was reminded why champagne can never be cheap.

A hectare of champagne vines, he said, typically costs around £1.3 million, but even in these straightened times, a hectare sold last week for £1.8 million. He estimates that it would take him fifty years to earn enough to afford such an outlay, and for that reason he prefers to rent land rather than buy.

A fixed interest ‘metayage’ agreement, say for 25 years assures the land owner something like a 20% share of the value of the grapes produced on it. With grapes at £5.20/kilo, a hectare can bring in, he says, an income of €1,000 per month. If you have ten hectares to rent, you’re in clover.

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