Champagne houses are predicting a substantially lower yield this year.

Regis Camus, chef de cave at Piper-Heidsieck said while he is confident of quality, yields will be down by 10%.

Roederer and Taittinger suggested the same, with Chardonnay the main reason for the drop.

While Pinot Meunier vines will be ‘quite concentrated’ and the Pinot Noir is ‘looking good,’ Camus said, the real warning came for Chardonnay.

Launching three vintages – 1999, 1988 and 1979 – of the new Heidsieck cuvee ‘Rare’ in London, Camus said global demand for Champagnes made exclusively or predominantly from Chardonnay would push prices up.

As a result there is a danger of too much ‘concentration on Chardonnay’ with the predicted expansion of the geographical limits for Champagne.

He urged growers to keep new plantings of varietals in the same proportion as they are now.

Champagne Taittinger advised that the harvest would be postponed to 15 September and that it would be ‘a more normal year’ after the very large harvests of the last couple of years – this would make it some 10% down on last year.

And Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer, said, ‘The 2008 crop will probably be 10% lower in volume. But we still expect it to be above the appellation limit.’

Rouzaud also said Chardonnay would be hard hit. ‘We shall have to use more reserve wines for the non-vintage blends.’

Written by Conal Gregory MW