09 September, 2018

Harvest 2018 : Superbe, magnifique or put simple : just zen

5.000 kiloes of grapes.This is the weight, that has passed through the hands of each picker in average at our place. It gets close to double of an ordinary year. That is like any other year than 2018, where absolutely nothing has been neither normal nor ordinary in Champagne. The seven days of grape harvest at Champagne Tange-Gerard were Zen. Simply put.

A deep pleasure to collect perfect fruits
Please imagine the clusters. They may be Pinots of a deep blue colour, at places close to black, or green Chardonnays turning yellow with their dark and barely visible points on a skin that lets you catch just a glimpse of the tiny pips inside. The grapes are not big enough to touch each other leaving the clusters open instead of compact. And there are so many of them that none in Champagne saw anything like it ever. The result of perfect weather throughout the flowering in june and ever since.

These blue and green spheres are what this is about. They throng the branches of the vines, just perfect. No of rots, mildew or other scourges that we usually have to sort out. This year all clusters are in perfect health. One after another. We eat as many as we want to. The acidity does not bite as much as some years, but it still counterbalances the sweetness of grapes, that grew up in paradise all summer.

Not everyone would choose the word Zen to describe the repetitive task when you cut five ton of absolutely gorgeous grapes in seven days. But those of us who did this before know from within that what we experience this week is on another level than ever before.

Future champagnes from a superb year
The best way to make good champagne is to have ditto grapes for a start. The sacrosanct ba-lance between sugar and acidity counts, yes sir indeed, but the best possible start of something big is still to have absolutely healthy grapes in your press.

To say that we do not have expectations to the vintage of such an exceptional year as 2018 would be a downright lie. We had the last taste of the must right off the presses on the last day of the harvest at our place, August 31rd. Now is the period where the must fermentates to wine, next year, we will fermentate it once again in the bottle and after a couple of years or four more in the caves, it will have transformed into champagne. Only then will come the time of looking for words to qualify the quite extraordinary grapes of 2018.

The next single is ont its way
This autumn we plan to present our next single : a blanc de blancs champagne from 2014. A year that began early and warm to change into rain and cold to finally end happily with sun and sugar and it is all there in the bottle, certified sustainable as is cuvée Solliage from 2013.
We have sold Solliage since February this year. It has received many fine words and sold well, which confirms us in our big investment, economically and timewise, to create a new range of champagnes. Of course we continue to sell our old brut friends like Tradition and Noirs & Blancs, both non vintage, the vintage champagnes Blanc de Blancs (2012/13) and Selection (2007) and the rosé champagnes Rosé d’Assemblage og Rosé de Saignée,

Regards from Zenpagne,
Alain Gérard and Solveig Tange, Soulieres, September 2018

Please send a mail if you want to know more. Enjoy, Alain Gérard and Solveig Tange.

24 August, 2018

Grapeharvest from Aug 25th

These Pinots were sampled one week ago.

Saturday 25th of August, it's for real.

At Champagne Tange-Gerard, we will begin with the black Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to continue with the white Chardonnays in a few days.

The quality of the year is very promising.

Lots of sugar due to the wonderful weather all summer and zero rots thus perfectly healthy grapes.

This is excactly what you need to make great champagne. So that will be very interesting to follow even it is not for us to guess about right now.

We receive people for dinner tonight and tomorrow we are ready for take-off.

24 July, 2018

Many grapes and 10.800 kg/ha for champagne

Since May the vineyards in Champagne have had amazingly amount of sun and a bit of rain now and then.

That's just about perfect.

Many many grapes
Subseqvently, we counted as many as 35 grapes on one plant yesterday.

That's a lot, when you are used to 10-12.

However, it will not mean three times more champagne for you.

An average amount of bottles
In a AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlée) like champagne, the yields are controlled and subsequently we will be allowed to make champagne with the equivalent of 10.800 kilos per hectare.

For our tiny brand this corresponds to the 9.000 bottles of an average year.

The amount of grapes allowed straight into the elaboration of champagne is decided by teh champagne houses and the winegrowers together.

New reserves
We can pick another 4.700 kg/ha to renew our reserves, and as the quality is promising, we expect to do so right now.

What we do not yet know is the dates of the grapeharvest.

Early harvest
These will be decided by the same body but based on what winegrowers measure in their plots in each village.

This is too early yet.

But what seems obvious is, that 2018 has been an early year since May without ever slowing down. The grapeharvest will be early too

We will be around for preparations by mid August.

09 April, 2018

Work lines

Sunshine, a bit of wind, nice temperatures above 20 degrees Celsious.

Finally, the soils of our vineyards were dry enough to allow the good old veteran to be back in business. And draw some lines.

Wet soils
Our enjambeur (special tractor for the width of Champagne vineyards) is an old model, a veteran basically, and not very powerful.

Thus it takes certain conditions for it to manouevre well in the vineyards.

And until now, the soils were simply too wet.

(Remember talks of floodings in Northern France this winter? It's drying out but only now several months after).

Precision work
The ploughing tools of the machine work between the vines in the line as well as on the side of the line of vines.

This removes whatever grows naturally in the plot. Leaving the vines with all the good stuff and little competition.

At least for a while :-)

The task demands quite some concentration of the driver in order not to destroy the vines and the different sets of wires.

Now and later
This far, Alain managed to deal with almost half of our three hectares this sunny weekend.

Only in the first part of the lines - both ends - the enjambeur does a mediocre job. To finish off nicely, we follow up with manual tools as well.

Later, we'll live with much more plants as it's simply impossible to keep them away.

However, we don't want anything to climb in the vines like the bindweeds for instance.

Between the vines, we leave whatever grows naturally. It protects against erosion.

However, in years of drought, these growths also compete with the vines for minerals and water. Sometimes we remove them too.

For the time being it's left. And we move on to the next part.

06 April, 2018

Springtime treat

When the lumpfish roe is in season, you can get your own bite of paradise on earth.

A treat for the weekend or whenever... nice on mondays as well. Just be sure you have the time to do the blinis yourself.

They are are made with buckwheat, it happens to be a regional cereal in my childhood Danish island of Funen.

The red onion are less sharp in taste. Not too many since the idea is to combine with champagne.

The perfect match in your glass
We think the pink Rosé Assemblage is a great companion for the fish eggs.

As it is based on the Chardonnay grape, this champagne adds nicely to the taste of the fish rather than taking over entirely as is the risk with Pinot.

On top the pink colour fits the fish nicely and it is just what you need when springtime is young and we wait for the buds to burst.

The recipies
Now what is left is the cooking.

Here is your recipie in English or in Danish.

You do find this kind of fish eggs in Ikea warehouses... the difference between this and the fresh product is the same as all other products. It's obviously very different when you buy it fresh... sometimes the world is not perfect and we still carry on living in it. But save the champagne for the fresh stuff.

05 April, 2018

A crush in Crochettes

This is the end-of-story for the cut-offs.

A tractor crushes the branches after the pruning.

The pieces of wood will be broken down by water, wind and weather in general.

Like this the branches will contribute to maintain the mulch in the plots rather than adding to our emissions of CO 2.

Goodbye to burning
For years we have burned the branches we cut off while pruning as we are not equipeed ourselves with a tractor that can crush efficiently.

However, now we opt for crushing as

  • 1) this maintains the layer of mulch
  • 2) we can buy this service from someone who has a suitable machine
  • 3) we adapt our work to lower CO 2 emissions whenever possible
  • 4) disease does not seem to spread more with this practice

We may need to invest in warmer clothes though. Burning the branches directly in the vineyards is also a way you may keep yourself warm.

27 March, 2018

Late pruning in Loisy to fight frost

The pruning of our vineyards has been long this year.

We began the work in November last year, and we still have this plot to finish. The low plot of Chardonnays in Loisy-en-Brie.

Not due to lazyness, but rather to tactics. Time will tell if it will work out.

Frost problems 2017
As you may remember, frost was a big problem in 2017. (Report from Decanter )

Not in winter, where cold weather rarely matters as the plants are not active. In spring, however, the buds grow, the young leaves unfold and this is a crucial moment where low temperatures can be very destructive and kill a bud partly or completely. Which will mean that neither branches nor grapes will develop. Thus no yields but also no branches to prune thus no or less yields the following year as well.

Partly frozen
This plot took its part of this sad heritage, but luckilyr it was only partly frozen.

Now is when we get to deal with the problems as in many places there are little or nothing to prune at the bottom. We'll have to continue with the old branches trying to make them survive another year or two until hopefully something will grow at the bottom again.

Delay to protect
The later you prune a vine, the later the buds will burst. Says theory.

Well, we could hardly wait any longer with this plot. Now the snow is gone, the temperatures rise and activity within the vines will resume.

Leaving this plot unpruned until the last minute may help to spare it for another frosty experience. We hope so anyway.

Half of the pruning is done by now, the rest rest should be finished within a week or two.

The rest is waiting.

22 March, 2018

Plot tastings of 2017-wine and 2014-champagne

We have tasted two coming-up Tange-Gerard singles.

The wine of 2017
A first trial of the still wine from the grapeharvest last year.

At the moment the wine gives a floral and feminine impression. Almost too pleasant for a champagne to be? The wine does not feel very acid which can often be the case in a warm year.

Within the next weeks, the wine will be bottled and placed in the caves where it will fermentate for the second time.

Cuvée 2014
Next one in line this morning is a manually disgorged Tange-Gerard champagne from 2014.

In fact, it is the first time we have tasted this, since we tried the original wine im spring 2015.

The new champagne has a surprising note of cocoa on the nose that can further be recognized in the slightly toasty taste that blends into the palette of different tastes that constitutes this champagne.

The acidity is present yet pleasant. Be prepared to welcome a zéro dosage in the family.

21 March, 2018

First taste of the next TG-champagne

This is throwback from 2014.

The looks of the fresh must just through the press.

First taste
Now we are almost through the first quarter of 2018 so this must is a while ago. Many wines would already be drunk this far away from their year of origin.

We are not that busy here in Champagne.

This morning we will taste the champagne that we have elaborated based on this must for the very first time.

As you can probably imagine, it is quite exciting.

We hope this coming up champagne may join cuvée Solliage in our range of Singles champagnes later this year.

20 March, 2018

Selling better, selling more - another year of selling less

It's that time of the year where we talk number of champagne bottles sold.

Let's participate in the fun.

In Champagne we always look for growth, beating new records, adding more value and so on. At least at this time of the year.

Bubbly island
Thus - since Greenland is our backgarden. almost - let me tell you that the champagne sales on the biggest island on Planet Earth was up in 2017 with amazing 282,8% : 656 bottles of champagne were sold in Greenland this year. Not a very big proportion of the total of approximately 307 million bottles but an impressive growth. don't you think?

At Champagne Tange-Gerard we regret not to have provided at least one of these bottles. At least to our knowing.

Sometimes our well-travalled customers provide some extra transportation and present our bottles in remote and exotic destinations. They even share the documentation with us now and then.
Obviously we appreciate this very much.

No record at Champagne Tange-GerardG
On top of not providing Greenland any champagne - sorry again, Greenland - we also did not beat our record number of bottles in 2017.

In fact, since we began to build up stocks of our new singles line of champagnes in 2013, we sell even less than before.

But since we released cuvée Solliage, you can help us to do something about it: buy it or contact us about how to taste it at champagne-tange-gerard at orange.fr.

The rest of the sales record numbers you find here. The text is French but we share the numbers, don't we. Enjoy :-)

One plot left to prune as frost protection

We have organized our work a bit different than usual this year. Maybe it will turn out as a benefit.

We have been pruning since November. Instead of getting the job done, Alain has kept one vineyard unpruned and instead dealt with a lot of binding.

Result: Six plots have been pruned and they are well advanced regarding the binding of branches as well. In the top picture you can see the Belles Feuilles plot all ready just one week ago on February 12th. This week we are finishing the pruning of the plot of Crochettes in Soulieres which leaves us one plot to prune in Loisy.

Postpone the development
The idea is to postpone the developent of buds as much as we can.

The later you prune, the later the buds will burst in spring. When spring is due. If ever this icy year of 2018.

As we had late snow last weekend (second picture), maybe the strategy will prove itself useful.

Buds are susceptible to frost damage but only when they have started growing. This means, that if they grow later, the risk of frost will be shorter. In theory anyway, we'll see about the practical side later as we can have frost in Champagne until mid-May. Buds under the snow these days are fine, because the are still in their winter protection mode. Thus no reason to worry yet.

17 March, 2018

Picture party on Instagram

This blog has always suggested a lot of pictures.

As the job is quite varied, so are the photoes.

Since I have always liked to capture moments of all sorts, there is quite a collection to choose from these days.

It is our tenth year meaning that we will celebrate 10 years with Champagne Tange-Gerard next January 1st.

We will do a picture countdown for the rest of the year where you can get an idea about the journey and the job this far.

Many of the pictures have been published on this blog these last nine years.

Now they will get a revival on Instagram. Follow there if you like. That would be super.

This is a plate with duck, all was very very nice :-)


12 March, 2018

Feels like springtime

A stroll in the vines sunday morning left this strong feeling that springtime has finally arrived in Champagne.

The wind was warmer, the birds singing their beaks to pieces and the light has already been different for a while.

In the afternoon we could even leave coats behind. First time this year.

The rows remain wet.

Mud will follow your footsteps wherever you move in the vines at the moment.

The rain has seemed eternal for months. And then came snow as well. Even the "Beast from the East" - the freezing cold wind from Russia - could not dry it all up.

Nice to announce that the bigger part of our outdoors are well prepared for the upcoming milder season.

The pruning is finished in most plots and the binding of branches is very advanced as well.

Now it will be up to the buds to show some action.

And according to those who come to the vineyards each day, they have spotted the change for some time now.

The buds are on the move. Can you see them growing too?

05 February, 2018

About me

Hello there,

My name is Solveig. I have been writing this blog since 2004. On and off since I have other things to do as well.

The idea was always to write about champagne since I spent some years writing before I came to Champagne.

I've been educated as a journalist and worked as such in my native Denmark before I came to France in 2003 to form a family with Alain.

He already dealt with one of his family's vineyards in his sparetime before I arrived.

Champagne learning
Our first year in Champagne we lived in Soulières. There is not much to look at apart from village life and vineyards, which is basically how I got interested in the vines.

At first I read about champagne and Champagne, and I learned a lot of French this way. The blog was a way to talk about what I saw and what I learned, and it was written in my native Danish and in English as well for Alain to follow it too.

Spare time to full time vines
Later, in 2006, I got hold of a diploma in pruning the vines.

Around this time we got one vineyard more to deal with, and with one hectare of vines to deal with in weekends and holidays, it became rather busy.

As a cousin who dealt with the rest of the 3 hectares in the family, gradually retired, we gradually took over.

Since 2009, we have worked full time with the vineyards. In 2012 the changing of generation was fully done.

Cooperative to plot champagnes
The company develops step by step as well.

At first, we sold champagnes made at our cooperative based on cooperative grapes. Lately we have moved on to selling a new line of champagnes, made of our own grapes.

In between we have become certified as sustainable winegrowers and we continue to change towards organic practices.

On the side, I have passed a bachelor's degree in French and communication and obtained French citizenship as well.

The journey
For us, this is an interesting journey. Maybe for you as well, I hope so.

Sometimes the road feels really rocky and uphill, and sometimes the opposite.

We have a lot of work, always, but it is also very rewarding to work with all aspects of a beautilful wine that is so alive. Work, that follows the year as the seasons pass by in the vineyards.

If I manage to pass on just a tiny bit of all this, I consider this already pretty good and worth it.

The language and contact info
The blog continues to be my place to write about champagne and now and then France and living here, about our work and ideas, about the weather or whatever I feel like that has the slightest relation to my topic. I feel rather free.

My langugage continues to be English because I want to share it with Alain and others who want to. This means that I make mistakes that I would not make in my native Danish - so be it, I do my best.

Please drop me a mail if you feel like it at solveig.tange at gmail.com

Bubbly regards

Solveig Tange, Reims, March 2018