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:

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.