Champagne sales declined slightly at Dan Murphy’s over the Christmas period.
After six to seven years of strong growth, the liquor chain has reported French fizz is losing ground to Australian sparkling wine.
Australian premium sparkling enjoyed double-digit growth for the $15-20 range in the 13 weeks leading up to Christmas.
Dan Murphy’s named its Double Bay store in Sydney as its top-grossing store for sparkling wines – a category that includes French champagne, Australian sparkling, Italian prosecco and Spanish cava.
Dan Murphy’s merchandise manager George Radman told the Australian Financial Review the recent boom in mid-tier Australian sparkling wine sales showed a shift in consumer behaviour.
The weakness of the Australia meant Champagne prices were on the rise, meaning lower-end champagne drinkers were switching to Australian wines. Plus the growing reputation of local wines meant lower-end Australian sparkling drinkers were willing to “treat themselves” to the middle tier.
“The quality of local wines has increased dramatically in the last few years,” he said. “In 20 to 30 years, we’ll have some of the great sparkling wines.”
Australian labels such as House of Arras are establishing themselves as serious competitors to French Champagne houses.
House of Arras is the number one $35+ Australian premium sparkling brand and House of Arras Brut Elite is the number one SKU in premium Australian Sparkling $35+ for both volume and value.
Sales for Accolade Wines across the Arras portfolio have more than doubled in four years; growing from almost $2.5 million (MAT to 11/01/15) to just over $5.5 million (MAT 07/01/18).
Shopper behaviour is also showing a trend towards choosing Australian sparkling on shelf.
Premium sparkling $15+ (excluding Champagne) is growing +15% vs. YA and total sparkling wine is growing at 4.5% vs. total wine at +3.3% YA.
Winemaker Ed Carr said Australians are becoming increasingly appreciative of how well Australian sparkling stacks up against Champagne.
“Ever year you see more acceptance,” he said. “Sparkling wine is perhaps a little harder to understand than still wine, so consumers will often focus on brand and choose a Champagne with a familiar label.
“You just need to get them to taste a great Australian sparkling and they’re converts.”