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Packaging and labelling

This is the last stage before the bottle is released for shipment.

The bottles are washed and dried to remove any trace of damp remaining from their time in the cellars and subsequent disgorgement. They are then transferred to the labelling line for packaging as follows::

  • the cork, wire cage (muselet) and part of the neck are wrapped in the foil capsule (coiffe): usually laminated aluminium foil but tinfoil is still used in some places;
  • a neck band label (collerette) is fitted at the base of the foil;
  • a label is placed on the front of the bottle, and sometimes on the back too (with medallions as an option);

Thus attired, some bottles may also be wrapped in cellophane or tissue paper (large bottle formats only). The newly-labelled bottles are now ready for packing in cases or boxes, laid head-to-tail, six or 12 at a time. These are then stacked on pallets and covered with PVC film awaiting release to the retailers. Outer boxes and gift boxes are also available for targeted marketing campaigns, as are traditional wooden packing cases.

Appendix : "A landmark of history"

’Genuine Champagne’ is the drink of princes who live at court, with luxury ever at their table. Its label proclaims the name ’Cuvée Impériale’.

P. Hamp, Marée fraîche, vin de champagne, 1909.

The labelling that is now traditional for Champagne originated in the 19th Century, born of a desire to create a presentation that was as exceptional as the wines. The bottle neck sleeve (coiffe) served to hide any trace of lees remaining in the bottle neck after disgorgement. The decorative neck band label (collerette) was a clear nod to the scarves, lanyards and other neck decorations so popular with our forebears. It was a visual salute to their grandeur and glory. Classically-styled Champagne labels still feature the ancient type fonts formerly used to write the sacred name of the king, the characters respectfully festooned with curlicues.

Over the years, as competition has increased and printing and marketing techniques have grown more flamboyant, so Champagne labelling design has grown ever more elaborate, looking to convey the image of greatness that defines the wine.

As with so many aspects of Champagne production, the labelling and packaging process is now increasingly automated, with manual labelling mostly reserved for special-format prestige bottles and other limited production runs. Standard Champagne bottles are by contrast labelled at the rate of 900-8,000 an hour, on an assembly line equipped with the following:

  • A depalletizer for the unloading and aligning of disgorged bottles;
  • a bottle washer and drier;
  • a bottle foil capsulator;
  • a bottle label applicator;
  • a central control panel;
  • an automatic packing machine;
  • a box palletizer.

The system is designed for smooth, reliable and continuous operation, with a tracking function that detects and eliminates any imperfect products.

Land of Champagne: 06 - The bottle