Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Champagne Bottle Approved

We’ve covered wine’s impact on the environment here before, and from more natural farming practices to the materials in which wines are shipped, it has become clear that, in general, there is a real and serious movement toward making the wine industry more environmentally friendly.

And, if you followed my posts from Champagne last September, you saw how important respecting the land is to that region in particular. Unfortunately, one of the main environmental threats that sparkling wines inherently pose is the thickness and weight of the bottle. After all, in order to safely withstand the pressure of the bubbly inside, Champagne bottles traditionally had to be thicker...and therefore heavier. This resulted in an environmental domino-effect of sorts when it came to moving the wines around the world.

Now, however, as part of the very serious commitment that the Champagne industry has been showing to the environment, a new bottle is ready for use. Less than an hour ago I received a press release with the news that the “Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) announced today the official launch of a new standard bottle that will significantly cut the region’s carbon emissions. The new bottle, which is more than 2 ounces lighter, will reduce annual CO2 output by 8,000 metric tons, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 4,000 cars. After significant testing and market use to ensure the highest quality and safety standards, the CIVC formally approved the use of the lighter bottle for the entire region.”

This is a big leap in terms of both real-world impact and symbolism. Regarding the former, it is yet another step toward the Champagne region’s self-imposed goal of “cutting carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The new bottle standard,” the press release continued, “is one of the initiatives to help meet this target. About 300 million bottles of Champagne were produced last year,” so a two-ounce difference in bottle weight will add up very quickly.

In terms of the symbolic import of the formal approval of the bottle, it’s just as big. After all, Champagne is synonymous with luxury and glamour, which, for far too many people and for way too long, seemed to exist on the other end of the spectrum from something as literally earthy as the environment.

Those two ends have been drawing ever closer lately, however, and this announcement, this bottle, is a very positive step in the right direction, as well as yet another indication of the wine world’s commitment (and Champagne’s commitment in particular) to the earth that literally sustains its business.


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