Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Debate a Bubble - Champagne Prices and 'Vins Sur Lattes'

Debate a Bubble - Champagne Prices and 'Vins Sur Lattes'

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Champagne Prices and 'Vins Sur Lattes'

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 11:35 PM PDT

Learning about the more obscure terminology to do with champagne is not everyone's cup of tea, but when it has a direct bearing on the price of champagne it's worth discovering the basics, so here's a brief explanation of what 'vins sur lattes' are and what that has to do with the price of champagne.

Avize 05 quart de mousse The 'lattes' are the  thin batons of wood placed between each layer of bottles when they are stacked in the cellars for ageing. The lattes are there partly to stabilise the stacks, to seperate the bottles and make them easier to handle, but more importantly they are there to prevent too much damage if a bottle were to explode and that does occasionally happen.

There is about 6 atmospheres of pressure inside a bottle of champagne, enough to put a strain on even the strongest bottle but if there is the slightest fault in the glass the bottle can quite easily explode.

When this happens the vibrations are passed on to the next bottle and the next so you could end up with  a chain reaction and dozens of broken bottles. The lattes act as a dampener and they prevent this chain reaction so that if one bottle goes, the ones next to it aren't affected.

Usually a champagne maker will leave his or her bottles many years 'sur lattes' whilst the bubbles form and the flavours develop. However, it's an expensive business to have all that stock tied up and not selling, so in times of financial crisis, such as we've just gone through, champagne makers sometimes sell off lots of 'vins sur latte' before they normally would do, just to get some cash in.

Don't forget that these champagnes are not yet ready to be sold. So the buyer still needs to disgorge the bottles, have the dosage added, and have them corked and labelled before they can be sold, so there is quite a bit of work to do on them.

Nevertheless, even with this work to do, buying 'sur lattes' can be a good way to buy up inexpensive lots to sell on at bargain prices and many of the supermarket champagnes or other champagne bargains that you have seen in the shops probably come from this sort of deal.

The down side is that when you buy a job lot of vins sur lattes it's a one-off deal and there's no guarantee that there will be any  left if you go back for more. Equally the price varies according to the going rate at the time.

Over the past few years, there have been some good bargains to be had on this market, but now most champagne makers have seen the worst of their financial problems and have little, or no, need to sell off vins sur lattes, or at least not at rock bottom prices.

You can discover more about vins sur lattes, and what a good alternative buy could be, at this link

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