The history of wine brokerage in Champagne dates back to the 11th Century when brokers were appointed by the Provosts and Aldermen of the City of Reims.
In 1357, the profession was regulated by Royal Charter, followed in 1415 by a decree setting out the rules of brokerage. In 1531 the brokerage profession was granted a much-coveted Royal Warrant (just six royal warrant holders in Epernay in 1661).
In 1696, the King of France introduced a price index that was to be followed by all Brokers.
In the 19 th Century, brokerage was codified by the Reims Stock Exchange according to standards set in 1825 that still apply today.
Brokers bring together buyers and sellers: Champagne Houses whose business depends on purchasing grapes and vins clairs (base wines); and Growers who work more than 90% of the Champagne AOC area.
In particular, brokers encourage both sides to enter into partnership agreements by committing to multi-year grape purchase contracts, which are normally binding for at least four years.
The vins clairs are meanwhile purchased on an ad hoc basis, according to the terms of a deal negotiated by brokers (quality, quantity and price) to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. Once agreement is reached, both parties are sent a Broker Confirmation Letter (confirmation de transaction) making the contract binding and enforceable.
Brokers play a vital role in obtaining excise authority (titres de mouvements) to transport newly-pressed wine musts. They also promote good relations between Growers and Champagne Houses, ensuring that they remain on good terms all year round as required by their contracts.
Brokers often draw up invoices on behalf of Growers, dividing the payments made by Champagne Houses to suppliers based on price and within the time set for payment.
The duties and responsibilities of brokers are set out in a Code of Professional Conduct highlighting the core values that are the ethical bedrock of their delicate business. Its formal acceptance is a requirement for all new entrants to the profession — an essential first step to becoming licensed. The authority to practice is granted by the Préfecture (which issues a carte de courtier de campagne) and the Comité Champagne (which issues a carte de courtier de Champagne).
Since the early 2000s, the Syndicat des Courtiers (the trade organisation for Champagne wine brokers or SPCVC) has comprised some 40 members including a few who work in group practices.
Successive Presidents of the Syndicat des Courtiers (SPCVC) since its foundation in June 1941:
|2013||Jean-Pierre DARGENT & Franck HAGARD|
|1941||Pierre SCHNEITER (Honorary President)|
Syndicat Professionnel des Courtiers en Vins de Champagne
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CS 30 135
51204 EPERNAY CEDEX