Do Not Panic, But The Champagne Harvest Is Down 17%

Posted: Sep 19, 2019

The Champagne harvest for 2019 is predicted to shrink by 17% versus the 2018 crop, following challenging growing conditions.

If the French agriculture ministry’s fears prove correct, it will put the 2019 Champagne harvest 5% below the region’s five-year average.

“2019 has been a very challenging year between April frosts, two record-breaking heatwaves during the summer months of June and July, and drought throughout most of the year,” said Antoine Malassagne, co-owner of Champagne AR Lenoble.

Around 5000 hectares of Champagne vineyards were affected by frost this year, with a fifth of those suffering ‘100%’ damage, according to regional trade body Comité Champagne in July.

Champagne harvest frost
Malassagne said: ‘The yields are going to be significantly lower than they were in 2018 to say the least, and it will be more important than ever for our harvest team to do lots of sorting in the vineyards so that only the best and healthiest grapes are brought to our three Coquard presses in Damery.”

Champagne’s regional council, the Comité Champagne, has set maximum yields for 2019 at 10,200kg of grapes per hectare, down from a limit of 10,800kg in 2018. If producers cannot reach this level, they will be able to make up the difference by releasing wines from their reserve.

Speaking to Drinks Business, Bollinger’s cellar master, Gilles Descôtes described the Champagne harvest as “very small”.

He said he believed that producers across the region would fail to reach the limit set by the Comité Champagne, while noting that Bollinger’s vineyards, which amount to just under 180 hectares, had suffered a fall-off in yield by almost 20%.

However, there is still optimism for the quality of the grapes.

The LVMH group says its a “promising” Champagne harvest.

Champagne harvest Dom Perignon
According to Vincent Chaperon, the Cellar Master of Dom Pérignon, the hot weather and absence of rain during maturation will result in “concentration and richness”, while the relatively high level of acidity in the grapes could lead to “a certain tension” in the future wines.

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, chef de cave and executive vice president at Louis Roederer, said on Twitter that the house was seeing good levels of freshness and ripeness in the first Chardonnay grapes to be harvestedin Vertus in the Côte des Blancs.

Champagne Barnaut, based in Bouzy in the Pinot Noir-dominant Montagne de Reims, said on Instagram that it was seeing very good ripeness, good acidity levels and excellent aromatic potential in grapes.

“What could be better?” it said.

By Alana House 
September 19, 2019

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