The grapeharvest in Champagne began yesterday. Under grey skies and with many worried looks. Officially everything's fine. In most vineyards the grapes still cling unto their branches, in good and healthy shape.
But the rain continues, now accompagnied by morning fog. In this region normally not before late September, but nothing seems normal in 2007 when it comes to the weather, And the airy quilts of hazealready now cover vines, fields and villages. We expect autumn with it. And rot.
Worst hit is the southern department of Aube, where one out of three grapes is rotten. The CIVC cross fingers that the sunny weather forecast for next week - many will start to harvest next monday - will relieve the risk of rot.
Low content of sugar
Another hope is that the rays of sun may give the amount of sugar in the grapes a needed kick further up. Even most - officially anyway - still chooses nice and positive words to describe the potential of the grapes, it is no secret, that the amount of sugar in the grapes is normally expected somewhere around 9,5 degrees before they are ready to pick.
In the latest notice from the CIVC - from yesterday - the content was 7,9 and 6,6 degrees for the highest (Meunier-grapes in the departement of Aisne) and the lowest (Chardonnay-grapes in the departement of Haute-Marne).
The equivalent numbers of last year - three days before the earliest date of harvest - were 6,6 (Pinot Noir-grapes in the departement of Aisne) and 8,8 (Chardonnay-grapes in the departement of Aube).
A bit of a distance still. And the last part of the efforts may still turn out to be a deep dip in the bag of sugar. We will know in some months. What seems sure is, that the vintage of 2007 will demand know-how from its vintner.