Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Champagne enjoys sparkling 2002 harvest

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Giles Fallowfield

A decent, vintage-quality harvest is expected in Champagne after sunny, dry weather for most of early September. It looks to be a particularly good year for Chardonnay, which ripened early in the Cte des Blancs, but there is more variability among the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, especially the latter in the Valle de la Marne. Picking started in the grand cru villages of Oger and Avize on Thursday 12 September - the earliest dates in the whole appellation - and in Chouilly and Cramant only two days later. The Pinot Noir harvest didn't begin for another ten days in some villages of the Montagne de Reims (Bouzy and Mailly) and there were concerns that the good weather might break before picking was completed in early October. Showers on 23, 24 and 25 September did not damage the quality of the harvest', said Ghislain de Montgolfier of Champagne Bollinger. Ripeness levels - with more than 11 degrees for the best crus of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,' according to de Montgolfier - are far better than in 2001, when an unusually cool and wet September resulted in a large, dilute, often underripe crop. Bruno Paillard says yields are generally 20% down on last year and in some parts of the appellation are not expected to reach the 12,000 kilos per hectare maximum set by the CIVC. Georges Blanck, chief winemaker at Mot & Chandon, described the weather as ideal. I have no complaints about it, at least since the beginning of September. It's been dry, with cool nights and sunshine during the day. We cannot expect better.' Blanck reports that at the halfway point in the harvest, the average sugar level was 10.2 degrees alcohol potential, which is good news'. Despite total acidity being lower than normal, he expects the final acidity balance for the wines of 2002 to be very good'. Blanck said it is far too early to predict whether it will be a vintage year, but the potential of 2002 seems to be very good'. Michel Drappier, based in the Cte des Bar town of Urville, expects to make some vintage Champagne, but also noted great variation in quality from one vineyard to another. Some of the wines will be gorgeous; blending the rest should produce excellent non-vintage.' De Montgolfier said: 2002 is a beautiful year for Bollinger: we can compare it with 1989, 1976 or 1959.'