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Biggest ever harvest for Champagne?

The Champagne harvest this year is set to be the biggest in history as the French government gives the green light to increasing the maximum yield.

Now, the French appellations body (INAO) is debating whether or not it will indeed increase Champagne yields by 1,000kg/ha. Their decision will be made public on 4 November.

Current predictions claim the 2004 vintage will produce 325m bottles and if the maximum yield is increased from 13,000kg/ha to 14,000kg/ha an extra 30m bottles will be filled. According to French press agency, AFP, the 2004 harvest will be the biggest in Champagne’s history.

The reasons for increasing production this year are twofold. Not only has 2004 been a good year for maturation and grape development but the 2003 harvest was greatly reduced as a result of the record summer heatwave.

Champagne producers keep reserve stocks of base wine which are used to augment any vintage shortfall in any given year. Although one small vintage – like 2003 – would not cause any headaches, the bumper crop this year is a boon.

Although France is currently experiencing a wine crisis with a downturn in sales and increasing overproduction, Champagne is still doing relatively well.

Written by Oliver Styles

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