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Champagne has finished its second-earliest harvest on record, which growers describe as “atypical”.
The Champagne Bureau says this year’s harvest as atypical as the beginning of the viticultural year.
The harsh winter conditions and a hotter-than average spring meant the vines were three weeks ahead by July, but the autumnal summer slowed this down. But picking started early – August 19 in a few villages – with most crus starting on August 24 – making this the second earliest harvest in the history of Champagne since 1822.
Pickers experienced stifling heat, around 35°C, very cool mornings, hot sun and thunderstorms, sometimes even hail. This unpredictable weather lead to a slowdown in grpae maturation, particularly Chardonnay, and some producers temporarily suspended the harvest.
The Champenois have praised this year’s Chardonnay crop as “outstanding”. The grapes, marked by a good balance of sugar and acidity, offer the “potential for promising cuvées”, according to the Bureau, although the final assessment will only be made in early spring 2012.
The Bureau reports that all winemakers should have reached the minimum yield of 10,500 kilos per hectare.
Champagne’s commercial recovery achieved in 2010 continues: during the first half of 2011, worldwide Champagne shipments were up by 5.2% with the prospect of 330 to 335 million bottles being shipped by the end of the year.
Story by Gemma McKenna
Courtesy of Harpers Wine and Spirit Trades Review