Whether it's a stand-in for Europe's spirits or its wallets, the message is the same: It's been a rather gloomy 2012, at least according to Champagne sales, with shipments of the bubbly down 5% in the first three quarters. And though a holiday bump will occur per usual, it won't be enough to lift this year's sales over those of 2011, reports the Wall Street Journal, which declares that "the downturn shows how closely Champagne's fortunes are tied to Europe's economic health."
To wit, shipments to EU countries fell 10.4% through September, but those to the US are quite similar to last year's. "In 2011, France had not fully entered the crisis, but now, it's getting real," says one Parisian wine shop owner, and the stats appear to back up that claim: Shipments from Champagne to other regions of the country are down 6.3%. But there's a glimmer of good news, thanks to more bad: This year saw the worst Champagne grape harvest in 40 years; Champagne makers boosted prices some 5.6% in response, fueling a 1.2% bump in revenue.