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:

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

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.

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