Champagne producers are looking forward to an excellent end of harvest, and many reckon they will be certain to declare a vintage this year.

As the harvest draws to a close throughout Champagne, producers report the excellent September weather has more than compensated for the rainy and cold August which caused botrytis problems in some vineyards.

‘It was perfect,’ said Moet et Chandon’s chief winemaker George Blanck. ‘I have no complaints about the weather, at least since the beginning of September.’

Delphine Colin of Champagne Colin said, ‘We will have a vintage this year. The weather during harvest was excellent – we won’t be certain until May when we taste the wine, but we have good acidity and good sugar levels, and just the right quantity of grapes.’

Colin said she would compare the quality with the 1990 vintage. Blanck said it was far too early to decide whether it would be a vintage or not, but ‘the potential of 2002 will be very good.’

In general, yields have been lower than expected, which augur well for quality. According to Blanck, the Chardonnay is particularly good, with the Pinot Noir being slightly more variable. Many growers did not bring in the maximum allowance of 12,000kg/ha.

Gilles Dumangin of Champagne Dumangin is also very pleased with the harvest. ‘We would expect to make a vintage this year. The sugar levels are excellent, and the acidity levels are not as good as we hoped but they are ok. We have everything we need.’

He added, ‘It won’t be the best vintage ever. It’s definitely better than last year when we didn’t make a vintage, not as good as 96, but better than 1991.’

Harvest reports

Written by Adam Lechmere, and Giles Fallowfield8 October 2002