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Chablis harvest down by 40% in places

With most of the grapes now picked in Chablis, growers are broadly pleased with quality of the 2012 vintage although quantity is down by up to 40% in some villages.

‘We were very afraid…’ Chablis harvest

The difficult growing season has led to the reduced yields, particularly in the Premier and Grand Crus.

At Domaine des Malandes yields are down by 15-20% in their Premier Cru vineyards, whereas in nearby Domaine Louis Michel & Fils they are down twice this amount. Guillaume Gicqueau-Michel, winemaker at Louis Michel said, ‘2012 has been a very complicated vintage in the vineyards. Yields are unsurprisingly down, up to 40% in places.’

The 2012 growing season was challenging from the outset. After some localised frosts in spring, there was heavy rain in early summer followed by a very dry August.

Lyne Marchive, owner of Domaine de Malandes, said the year was tough. ‘We had frost in April and in July it was rainy… in August it was dry every day. Oidium and mildew were very present from spring to summer… We were very afraid, especially after the bad flowering.’

The dry weather in August led to good concentration in the remaining fruit in the run up to harvest. Gicqueau-Michel said, ‘August was very dry, so the berries coming into September were small and extremely concentrated… Despite all these challenges 2012 looks to be a really great vintage.’

With most of the harvesting taking place during the last week in September and the first week in October, the timing was slightly later than in recent years.

Jean-Philippe Archambaud, winemaker at Simonnet-Febvre confirmed, ‘Our harvest began on 24 September and finished on 9 October. This is a return to a more classic harvesting period after very early harvests in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The dates are quite similar to the 2008 harvest.’

Written by Matt Walls

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