Region 'Vintage Champagne' - Year 2008
|keep||Tricky, mildew-ridden season but harvested fruit was perfectly ripe and healthy fuelling general optimism.|
As elsewhere in France, mild winter prevented vines from resting - yet the April frost that so troubled Bordeaux posed little threat in this later-ripening region. Otherwise, same story: cool, wet spring followed by precarious June flowering. There was high rainfall (4-9 June particularly sodden) and temperatures fluctuated widely. Mildew was rampant - and persistent, even after treatment.
A cool, cloudy July and August slowed maturing, though by the end of August mildew had largely been eradicated and vineyards were in good form. Harvesting took place during two weeks of dry, warm, breezy weather from mid-September onwards –classic timing – with growers contentedly picking parcels as and when the grapes reached peak conditon.
Overall yield was roughly 10% down on 2007, though still above the appellation limit. Pinot Meunier yields were most affected.
As yet, the Champagne houses have said little about whether or not they’ll release Vintage Champagne from the 2008 harvest. However, there’s plenty of enthusiasm surrounding the quality of the harvest, and the indications are positive.
2008’s lucky break was the combination of unbroken sunshine and chilly rot-stopping nights from mid-September onwards. The warm afternoons, around 20°C on average, promoted slow, steady physiological maturity, while cold nights (down to 4°C) helped preserve natural acidity.
All three varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier - were successful, with some growers reporting satisfyingly thick skins on the Pinots suggesting good flavour profiles. Despite fears that the dreary summer would limit levels, potential alcohol reached slightly over the 10° optimum. The wines promise an appealing balance of concentration and acidity.
Too early to call. Vintage Champagne cannot be released until a minimum of three years after the first January following the harvest (ie, 2012 for the 2008 harvest).