The instantly-recognisable aluminium wrap on the top of a classic Champagne bottle may soon be replaced by a paper wrap.
The ‘wrap’ of a Champagne bottle is sometimes known as a ‘coiffe’ or simply a ‘foil capsule’.
Local workers’ union Le Syndicat général des vignerons de la Champagne (SGVC) is developing an eco-friendly paper alternative, with some Champagne houses that use organic production methods set to make the switch in 2023.
The union, which is based in Épernay (Marne) – dubbed the Champagne capital of France – is leading the experiment.
Nicolas Saint-Dizier told France 3 Champagne-Ardenne: “This is a project that we’ve been thinking about for a while. It has become possible to change the coiffe material, and some are interested. It’s something that we should be able to make common in 2023.”
The new paper coiffe looks very similar to the traditional aluminium, with perforated areas to rip off to uncork, and a stamp showing the domaine’s logo or signature.
Mr Saint-Dizier said: “It’s not about completely replacing aluminium. They will just be an extra. It’s not a plan to completely replace aluminium, nor about raw material shortages. Even in ‘normal times’, we would be doing this anyway.”
He explained that demand for the idea had come from organic winemakers, “who have been asking for a paper coiffe for a while”. He said: “We are going to do it now. We will test it with two or three people locally. Once it’s working, we’ll offer it to anyone who would like it.”
The idea is to make the “eco-friendly aspect” go from the coiffe to the cork and bottle, with paper offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative to aluminium both in production process and recycling.
Mr Saint-Dizier said: “[The paper] comes from sustainable Swedish forests. It is composed of fresh primary fibres, designed for food safety. It is entirely recyclable, biodegradable, and renewable. Its carbon footprint is better than that of aluminium.
“It respects all the hygiene and food rules. It is resistant to humidity and keeps its shape once shaped around the bottle. The bottle-coiffing machines are mainly suitable, pending some change in function and membrane changes.”
The paper is white to begin with, but can be coloured to the desired shade, and pressed to show logos or other designs. “All the printing is digital,” said Mr Saint-Dizier.
The first bottles with paper coiffes are set to go on sale to consumers in 2023.
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