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Crude Oil and Champagne Can’t Live Without ‘Em

Mari Stull
By Mari Stull
Posted on Jul 02,2008
Filed Under Food And Wine , Local Tastes,

(and how the US Oil Policy can learn from French Champagne policy)

Mari Stull - The Vino Vixen™

Sticker Shock
Last week I filled up my tank to prep for my four hour drive to beach.  $86.  And I don’t drive an SUV.  Dayum – I think I’ve seen one-way airfares to Florida for less than 86 bucks.  $4.22/gallon – haven’t seen that kind of craziness at the pumps since the reign of Jimmy Carter.  

 Next beach prep stop was the wine shop where I needed to pick up my requisite Champagne for the week.  I march straight to VeuveCliquot (that orange label just FEELS summery!) and grab a few bottles without a glance to the price tag –been buying it for 20 years, I know what it costs.  I was jolted out of my gas bill stupor when the Veuve rang up as $110.  “Oh, I’m just purchasing two bottles today – not three.”  As I said, I know the price of Veuve - $36.99 regular price, down to $32.99 on sale.  But, like our gas prices, Champagne has recently gone through the roof.

(photo credit: The Economist)

Supply and Demand – A Champagne : Crude Oil StudyBy law, French Champagne may only use grapes grown within the designated AOC Champagne region which is confined to just over 84,000 acres.  So, like gas, Champagne comes from a natural resource with limited sourcing areas.

 Exports of Champagne has increased by over 7% per year since 2006.  OPEC oil exports have increased over 8% during the same time period.

 The French Solution – Listen Up Next President
The French, for all of their political foibles, got this one eminently correct.  To bring down the price of Champagne and increase supply for the growing global demand they …

 (Ready for this brainiac economic solution?)


 That’s it.  They will likely expand the Champagne border by an additional 2,500 vineyard acres by 2020.  Simply brilliant.

Now, why can’t US policy allow the same sensible solution for oil drilling?  Currently, US offshore drilling is allowed in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and some grandfathered pockets off California.  However, according to Chris Oynes, who directs the offshore drilling program at the Minerals Management Service, there is an 5.5 billion gallons of oil and 9.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under drilling ban in Gulf Coast states like Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi (some of the poorest states in the US who could use the economic infusion).  Florida is the sole Gulf State that currently has a total ban on drilling – a ban that (as a native Floridian), I think is time to lift.

 A Champagne toast to France for getting this one right.


The Vino Vixen™ is Mari Stull – Syndicated wine columnist, correspondent for Wine Taste TV, and member of the Society of Wine Educators. Have a wine question or comment for Mari?  She can be reached at

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