Picking has begun in the vineyards of Champagne amid ‘promising’ conditions, with production set to top last year’s figure as sales around the world continue to recover.
Early frosts and generally cool weather meant that the harvest started a few days later than last year, with the first of the grapes picked on 10 September and more widespread harvesting starting three days later.
Many observers in the region are cautiously optimistic about the quality potential of 2010, after a particularly warm July helped to accelerate the ripening of the grapes.
The harvest limit this year has been set by generic body the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) at 10,500 kilogrammes per hectare (kg/ha), up on the 2009 limit of 9,700kg/ha.
The increase in production reflects the recent recovery in global Champagne shipments, which had been devastated since late 2008 by the economic crisis.
‘Since yields are fixed at 10,500kg/ha, and vines are producing 14,000kg/ha on average, we will have scrupulous selections to ensure a high-quality vintage,’ said CIVC communications director Daniel Lorson.
Global Champagne shipments increased by nearly 40% in the first half of 2010, with non-EU countries showing particularly strong growth, according to official CIVC figures.
Pricing is also believed to be increasingly stable after market value was significantly eroded during the recession.
Written by Richard Woodard