It has been reported that large champagne houses were paying 8,00 € the kilogramme for Grand Cru grapes in the Champagne during the 2019 harvest. This might sound like a good thing for the grape growers but in fact this is the opposite.
Unlike wine, the champagne producer, especially if they are starting a new business, has to wait up to three to five years before they can sell their first vintage, this requires a lot of patience before revenue starts to come in. Similiarly for a small producer, selling the grapes directly after the harvest means having the revenue instantly and not having the work in the cellar, do marketing, investing and everything that is involved in producing and selling Champagne.
What are the motives of the big houses in paying such prices; altruism does not come into the equation. As we have seen in the Cognac region, Hennessey started paying grape growers high prices, at first it seeemed they were revitalising the region. However when they had enough growers, the prices were lowered, resulting in many grape growers not continuig and selling their land. Hennessey has an almost monopol position in the region and can dictate prices as they wish.
Look at LVMHs drinks portfolio, at first you might say, very impressive but look at how effective they are at manipulating the market. They are very secretive about the amount of bottles of Dom Perignon that are anually produced. Some say one million, others say five million with them looking to increase production by 20%. Whichever way you look at it, considering that for a bottle of Dom Perignon you roughly need about 1,4 kg of grapes, at a price of 7-8 € for a kg and then consider the price a bottle sells at. That is a serious profit. Also they are experts at marketing; gullible celebrities, who at the oscars etc lecture us on saving the planet, world poverty etc etc, are happy to drink the champagnes, become sponsors, use their fame to promote unwittingly labels on instagramm etc without realising how hypocritical they are.
Wine critics, who are completly unbiased and have the moral fibre to resist being tempted by luxury are invited to impressive verticals, which they then write up lavishingly praising these monster brands for the good work they are doing, whilst the hard working farmer like wine producer, who could not afford such marketing strategies is resigned to getting 89 points.
Yet at the same time these large houses are destroying the diversity of the regions, creating monster profit driven brands that only millionares can afford whilst their sycophantic fan base look on adoringly, dreaming of living such a lifestyle. When buying champagne every consumer has a choice, to support diversity or to support the destruction of diversity.
It suggests the wealthy donors want their money to go toward long-lasting, immortalizing structures and not on ephemeral, but equally vital, cleaning and securing of the site that also still poses a real health risk for Parisians.