14 October, 2016

Høst 2016: Vand som først fjende så frelser


I Champagne har høsten 2016 stået i regnens tegn. Hvad kan vi vente os, når vi møder dens druer som kildrende priklende bobler i ganen? Det er kun få uger siden, vi landede den sidste klase i sorte spande, og derfor stadig svært at forudsige. Men sæsonen har været så usædvanlig siden sidst i april, at det er svært at forestille sig, at ikke også afslutningen, den endelige champagne på flaske, må ende særligt. Så meget desto mere spændende at følge.

Det er jo ingen nyhed, at druedyrkning i Champagne er en besværlig affære. Sådan har det været i århundreder. Alligevel forekom det i 2016 mere mirakuløst end nogensinde at se balancen mellem succes og fiasko tippe til plus. I vores landsby, Soulières, skal man være tættere på 100 år end 50 for allerede at have oplevet en sæson med så snæver en marginal. Det skyldes primært vand: Nærmest endeløs regn gennem hele foråret på minussiden, der blev vendt til plus i sidste sekund af forløsende fem millimeter regn få dage før høststart.


Derfor kunne vi lande 35 tons flotte og sunde, blå og grønne druer fra den 21. september om morgenen og til kort før frokost syv en halv dag senere. Det er væsentligt færre klaser end normalt, men mere end rigeligt til at fylde de godt 8.000 flasker Tange-Gérard champagne, vi har til salg per år, foruden druer til kooperativet. Alle er de nu på efterårets vej mod vin. Først efter nytår følger fortsættelsen på flaske, hvor vinen andengærer sig frem til sine bobler


Vanskelig sæson
I vinmarkerne fulgte frost lige efter de første blade i år. Måske var det den, der generede vinens vækst resten af sæsonen. Måske havde den langvarige tørke i 2015 forstyrret knopperne i fødslen. Det betød en stærk variation mellem planternes udvikling og blev en af de faktorer, der gjorde 2016 til en udfordring helt frem til vinhøsten.

Gennem foråret sinkede den konstant silende regn vinens udvikling yderligere, den forstyrrede blomstringen og gjorde kampen mod vinmeldug konstant det meste af sommeren. Først i august skiftede vejret til meget varme temperaturer langt over 30 grader Celsius. Varmen reddede en god del af vores vindruer fra sygdom, men de var stadig så små, at vi ansatte en tredjedel færre drueplukkere end normalt. Lidt regn få dage før høststart lagde til druernes vægt - det var miraklet - og nu venter vi på de næste møder med indholdet.


Mosten og vinen
Mosten har vi smagt flere gange direkte fra pressen. Især Pinot Meunier er spækket med sukker, vores blå druer nåede en betragtelig modenhed, og de fleste af dem går en rød fremtid i møde som det farvende element i vores ellers Chardonnay-baserede rosé champagne. Vi plukkede Chardonnay-druerne sidst, hvilket gav en most med lidt mere sukker og lidt mindre syre i fin balance mellem disse afgørende poler. Hvordan vandet i 2016 i sidste ende vil finde sit udtryk i årets vin, er for tidligt at sige noget om endnu. Hæng endelig på. Fortsættelsen følger på flaske om nogle år.


Høsthilsener
Alain Gérard og Solveig Tange, Soulières, oktober 2016

20 September, 2016

Getting ready for the team of 2016


At Tange-Gerard, switching languages is part of our daily life.

What could be more natural than to extend this to our team of the grapeharvest?

All set and ready. The boxes are out of the grange. The extra van is picked up today. As will be the girls who arrive by train later.

We will all meet for dinner tonight. Certainly the starter will be soup. We just don't know which vegetable yet.

Tomorrow is our first day of 2016. The Pinots will be up.


17 September, 2016

Vingæster på falderebet før høst


Vi venter gæster til formiddag.

Gæster fra Danmark, der kommer for at se lidt mere på faciliteterne. Champagnen kender de allerede.

Jeg når aldrig rigtig at fotografere festlighederne på anden vis end som ovenfor, men tidligere på året, i sommer, skrev en gæst sådan her:

"Tak, vi havde en rigitg dejlig tur til Champagne. Vi er virkelig glade for, du tog dig tid til at vise os rundt - det var en stor oplevelse for os alle.

Ingen af os vidste det store omkring Champagne forinden, men nu er vi vilde med det :-)".

Historier og vinhøst
Det er jo lige præcis det, som det handler om: At opleve druerne sammen, der hvor de er: Det vil sige i vinmarken og på flasken. Historier har vi nok af.

Mon ikke emnepilen peger på vinhøst? For den står sjældent mere for døren end lige nu.

Når gæsterne er kørt videre, skal værelserne have en tur, så de er klar på tirsdag, når der kommer flere folk på gården, end vi plejer at være.

Det er altid en særlig tid. Jeg tænker næsten vores danske gæster risikerer at blive smittet med bacillen.

14 September, 2016

The Chardonnays are catching up

Finally the grapes are getting there

Day by day the sugars go up and the acidity the other way, though in an acceptable speed.

The Chardonnays were behind the Pinots.

Quite a gap, but they are getting there as these white grapes have approached the last, fast part of maturation before it will slow down again. Now the Pinots are beyond 9% vol and the Chardonnays beyond 8% vol on average.

Minor gap is fine
Since we cannot pick both Pinots and Chardonnays at the same time, a gap is fine. As long as the difference does not measure in too many days.

Finally, it seem that after a summer of 1001 different calamities, finally what is left out there is left to mature nicely. And at the moment with a quite extraordinary healthy quality thanks to the lack of rain. However, you may spot brown parts of the far grape, and they are damages, caused by the burning sun. Damage that we see in several plots. Tuesday the temperatures passed 30 degrees Celsius again.

And we would like to order some rain just a few days before we pick the grapes because that will allow them to put on weight. And us to be able to land just a bit heavier grapes than is the case now.

At Tange-Gerard, we will start the harvest next wednesday, September 21st.


09 September, 2016

Puzzle of sugar levels before date decision


We are one step closer to the champagnes of 2016.

Yesterday Alain collected samples in all plots in order to measure the sugar of the grapes.

We aim at a sugar level that will provide us with still wines between 10 and 11 % vol.

Sunny weather, more sugar
Currently, we have very warm weather every day so you would expect sugar levels to go up easily. They certainly do grow as we check the measures of other winegrowers every 3-4 days. We have so few grapes this year that we will only do one sampling.

The average in Champagne is of 7,4 % vol for the Chardonnays in la Marne and 8,5 for the Pinot Meuniers and a bit less for the Pinot Noirs, also in la Marne.

In our own plots we reach the same level for the Pinots but our Chardonnays are behind with only 6,5 % vol which makes it a bit of a descision when to begin the harvest. For logistical reasons we need to finish it all in the one week, we hire staff. How that will be manageable with such a gap between the red and the white grapes is the puzzle of today.

Date decision expected
Later, in the afternoon, the winegrowers of our corner will discuss measures and possible dates.

Hopefully this will bring us a big step closer towards the date descision in order to inform the staff.

03 September, 2016

2016 and never ever seen before - all is set for different champagnes


In a few weeks we will pick grapes in Champagne. What could the future champagnes of 2016 be like?

Well, as you may remember, the story of the grapes of Champagne in 2016 is one long listing of calamities.

We had frost in April (estimated total loss in Champagne of 15%), rain and more rain in May to be continued in June with the flowering, better times in July despite a lot of weeds and now finally very warm temperatures in August with temperatures well beyond 30 deg Celsius. You would suppose, these rays of sunshine should be received with gratitude and pleasure, wouldn't you?

In fact the answer is closer to no than yes, because such temperatures actually kill grapes.

They dry out like raisins (echaudage) in some plots, these days we see it happening in our Pinots of Loisy.

Warmth has dealt with fungus diseases
On the other hand we are very happy to see the sun deal with the fungus diseases, mildiou and botrytis. They developped due to the excessive rain and now the diseases dry out to leave us calm right now and hopefully until the harvest.

So what is left out there, grapewise, for the coming grapeharvest?



Low average per plant
Today Alain went out to count grapes per plant, and this is the result from our plots of Soulieres and Loisy:


Soulieres:
Pinots.....: from 5.125 kg/ha to 6.233 kg/ha
Chardonnays: from 6.313 kg/ha to 12.300 kg/ha

Loisy-en-Brie:
Pinots.....: from 4.232 kg/ha to 10.929 kg/ha
Chardonnays: from 9.750 kh/ha to 10.667 kg/ha


That's not very much.

That's really not very much. Even the grapes may still put on weight.
Let me just remind you, that the quota of this year is 9.700 ka/ha. We must consider ourselves lucky if we will reach numbers that approach this.

In a more usual year, we would expect around 12 grapes per plant. Let's say around 12.000 kg/ha on average.

What is also noticable is the difference between the maturation of the Pinots and the Chardonnays. The planning of the grapeharvest will be quite a puzzle since we obviously aim at picking all grapes at their optimum ripeness. But we also need a group of staff to work during one week of continuous work.

Fat maturation expected
Since there are less grapes, they will mature faster than usual. Sugars will increase fast and acidity will decrease even faster.

Which means that what looked like a probable late harveststart has already moved closer to average due to the low yields and very warm temperatures in August. However, the final date for the start is still to be decided.



An unusual season
During the season of growth there has been many comments of du jamais vu for decades.

Never this much rain. Never such big difference of maturity between Pinots and Chardonnays. Never such violent attacks of mildiou (Comité Champagne estimates a total loss of 15% due to the disease.

These days we experience the fastest dicrease of acidity seen in almost 20 years.

All in all: a very unusual season.

In fact, all sails are set for equally unusual champagnes from a certainly memorable year in Champagne, the 2016.

And as we all know, it's not over until the fat lady sings.

23 August, 2016

Green grapes move into the blue


Summer has come to Champagne these last days with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius.

Nice for the grapes, nice for us as well as the sunshine contributes to deal with different problems due to bad weather this far.

As you can see the Pinot-grapes have begun to change from the summery acid green to move into the shades of blue.

That is the last part of the cycle before the maturity wanted at the grapeharvest.

So welcome blues. We will count the days.

26 July, 2016

GUDDOMMELIG favorit


"Kære Solveig,

Så har jeg smagt den første glade "Noirs & Blancs".
Der er kun én ting at sige - DEN ER GUDDOMMELIG!!!!!

Jeg har fundet min favorit blandt alle!"

Sådan skrev en kunde for en uges tid siden.

Dejligt at høre og fint at dele.

Hvilken champagne er din favorit?

24 July, 2016

Sidste Tour-etape: Gult og prikket


Vi er da ret stolte over at se Københavns nok guleste etiket være med til at åbne Tour'ens sidste etape på TV 2.

Gætter på at kjolerne også hører til de mest prikkede.

Bobler er vel også en slags prikker, og den gule etiket sidder på Champagne Tange-Gerards Blanc de Blancs 2010.

Den smager aldeles glimrende også hvis du ikke lige har østers ved hånden.

Hvis du skal bruge en flaske til afslutningen i dag, fås den hos le Petit vinbar i Torvehallerne, København, frem til kl. 19-20 stykker.