The 2007 harvest in Champagne is set to result in the largest volume of wine ever produced in the appellation.
If current figures are correct, this year will beat the record level of 375m bottles made from the bumper 2004 crop by over 13m bottles.
Although the expected average yield of 14,000 kilos per hectare (ha) will not better the highest yield levels achieved in 1982 and 1983, the total amount of productive vineyard in Champagne has risen 38%. Plantings in the region have increased every year since the early eighties.
Had the maximum yield of 15,500kg/ha been achieved, production would have surpassed 430m bottles. A poor summer, however, has affected the quantity of the black-skinned grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Hail also hit some areas earlier in the year and in those badly affected volumes are as low as 8,000kg/ha.
The 2007 harvest is the first to have the new maximum yields of 15,500kg/ha in place. Agreed by the Institut Nationale d’Appellations d’Origine (INAO), this new limit will run for an experimental period of five harvests from 2007 to 2011.
Although initially 340m bottles will be produced with the base yield set at 12,400kg/ha, vineyard owners have the option of producing a further 3,100kg/ha, with the aim of using this surplus to increase their reserves.
Kept as still wine, the reserve is to be used in case of a drop in production due to a poor harvest or if demand continues to increase.
The four highest yielding harvests in Champagne
Written by Giles Fallowfield