[All images in this blog posting are the property of Bruno Paillard. Please do not copy..]
If you’ve missed the latest harvest results for Champagne this year, I’m going to share it with you. Having been in France this past August, I can only imagine the struggles that they felt (extreme heat and grapes of differing sizes), because I did see and feel the same (at differing climate times, however) in Beaujolais and Provence. The Champagne region is about 400 miles from Beaujolais and even father to Provence, so their terroir experiences are quite different in the each season. This would give them different climates. It does, however, seem to have a similarities in deliver of warmer and cooler climates.
And, Champagne grape harvesting usually signals the early beginning of harvest and finishing ahead of other terroir regions.
I recently received the following E-mail from Bruno Paillard, found it very interesting, and willing to share their story. It began with…
A new harvest has ended! And what a harvest it is! We are pleased to share with you the details in the report attached.
We were lucky enough to harvest in wonderful weather conditions: dry, sunny days, tempered by cool nights, enabling the grapes to continue ripening at a steady, even pace, without risk of disease. Quantitatively, yields were limited by various factors (spring frost / unequal flowering / sunburn), but the quality of the grapes was very good throughout the vineyards.
The result in the winery is intriguing: juices that indicate significant maturity (more than 2018 and …2003!), but with two extra points of acidity! Needless to say, we are very curious to work on the blends in the spring! For the moment, the perfumes in the winery are extremely fruity and delicate at the same time
To be continued…
The attachment included the following information.
AT MAISON BRUNO PAILLARD
The 2019 Campaign
After a mild winter, the vineyard’s year began in a completely classic way. The bud-burst, in the second week of April, was in line with the 10-year average. Conversely, spring saw plenty of rain and fresh temperatures, impacting the development of the vineyard, with some frosts early on and with a difficult flowering period for the Chardonnay. The full bloom was therefore delayed this year, and was confirmed in the 3rd week of June. It was precisely at this moment that the weather changed radically!
A first heat-wave was experienced, but which, thanks to the presence of water in the soil, allowed the vine to fully develop without water stress. The second heat wave at the end of July, although short-lived, had an estimated 10% impact on yields by literally “drying” parts of over-exposed grapes.
Although the heat-wave stopped very quickly, the drought continued. Fortunately, the return of cool and rainy weather at the beginning of August allowed the vines to reach full maturation, while preserving healthy grapes.
Throughout the weeks of 19th and 26th August and 2nd September, the main task was observing the evolution of maturity, order to try and make the best possible decision regarding the start of harvest. Although working across 16 villages and more than 100 parcels that offer great diversity, we still work with only three grapes, and when harvest starts it becomes a marathon until it ends.
Walking through the vineyards, selecting a certain number of grapes with different sizes and sites within the vineyard, different sun exposure (échaudage), to get the best possible “synthesis” of the parcel’s overall maturity.
[Échaudage is when the grapes are burned by the sun, they is a death of the grapes that is visible by a film on the berries. Then, visible by their drying in the advanced cases.]
The grapes are then crushed and the juice is analyzed in the refractometer. Although moving closer to the right maturity, tasting the grapes became a key parameter. [In this]… pictures you see the difference between a parcel of Chardonnay that had a proper flowering (full grape) and one that suffered from cool weather during flowering: in such case, half of the pollination did not happen, and the floral caps remain in my hand.
The decision was tricky since maturation suddenly increased very quickly in the last four days of August, gaining in some areas more than 2,5 degrees in six days, which is absolutely unheard of! It was tempting to anticipate the start of picking, but keeping calm and studying the weather forecast convinced us to maintain our start on 9th September: with cooler days and nights announced, in a dry period, we chose not to hurry, and leave more time to those of our parcels that had a normal yield with proper flowering.
September 9th : slowly but surely
Our priority was the parcels where quantity was much diminished because of an unsuccessful flowering: i.e, some of our Chardonnay. Since the vine carries less fruit than usual, there was a strong concentration and ripening: the maturity there was already at 11, 50 potential degrees! Wonderful, golden, tiny, and flavourful grapes.
The “real start”
On Tuesday, [September] 12th we worked in the parcels that had their full normal yield and took good advantage of an additional three-six days of maturation, starting with Pinot Noir in Montagne de Reims, with Verzenay / Verzy as well as some of our Pinot Noir in Cumières and Damery. Some signs of échaudage are visible on this picture, though the most significant ones happened in our vineyards of Les Riceys.
Back to Côte des Blancs
It was time to go back to Côte des Blancs for those of our parcels which had a perfect flowering and that we had let continue their maturation. Here are the harvest in our Clos in Vertus from where you can see, beyond the wall, the top of the Côte des Blancs.
Until the last grape
Finishing with the Meunier grapes, from the northern bank of Marne Vallée, south oriented: Hautvillers, Reuil, Venteuil, and until Festigny on the other site of the Marne. We picked our last grapes on Friday, 20th.
We were lucky enough to harvest in wonderful weather conditions: dry, sunny days but cool nights allowing the grapes to slowly continue their ripening without
risk of disease. Quantitatively, yields were limited by various factors (spring frost/ unequal flowering / sun burn), but the quality of the grapes was very good throughout the vineyards.
The result in the winery is very intriguing: juices that show great maturity (over 2018 and…2003!), but with two more points of acidity! Needless to say we are very curious to work on the blends in the spring! For the moment, the perfumes in the winery are extremely fruity and delicate at the same time…
To be continued…