Champagne

See our Champagne topics page for all the latest news, harvest reports and exclusive interviews plus Champagne recommendations from our panel tastings.

See our Champagne topics page for all the latest news, harvest reports and exclusive interviews plus Champagne recommendations from our panel tastings.

Verdict

Many producers across the region are waxing just short of rhapsodic about the 2009 vintage, comparing it with 1988, 1982 and even 1976, and giving Pinot Noir star billing. The more modest among them talk about great potential rather than finished business, saying the season was a tough one and things could have gone very differently.

‘Already our wines are ripe, very powerful and aromatic – with good balance,’ said Nicolas Chiquet of Dizy-based Gaston Chiquet, whose vines are in the communes of Hautvillers, Dizy, Mareuil sur Aÿ and Aÿ. ‘The vintage will not be heterogeneously wonderful – I think it will be beautiful but not exceptional, with a lot of character.’

Weather

The CIVC confirms what the growers know so well – the year started off cold, yet despite frost and snow in January, groundwater was in short supply. April was milder, allowing buds to emerge in the middle of the month but spring and early summer was generally thundery and unsettled, with hail slamming 60 hectares around Cormoyeux and Romery in May and heavy rains in the Marne Valley in June. Some areas had bouts of coulure (broken berries) and millerandage (uneven fruit set).

‘Luckily the weather was very sunny and hot from mid-August through the end of September – with only one day of rain,’ said Hervé Deschamps, cellarmaster at Perrier-Jouët, who was not the only one grateful for the late-arriving dry weather, sunny days and cool evenings that resulted in healthy, high quality grapes and a vintage that reminds him of that of 1976.

‘I won’t say it was an easy year but we worked very hard and have some beautiful fruit to work with,’ said Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, chief winemaker for Louis Roederer. ‘The Pinot Noir is definitely special, and the vintage has great potential.’

Production

As Houses and the main cooperatives work to reduce stocks, they will defer bottling of some of the wine for up to 10 months. The yield ‘ceiling’ has been set at 14,000kg/ha, meaning growers who also bottle their own Champagne are allowed to set aside up to 4,300kg/ha for their personal qualitative reserves (the total of which may not exceed 8,000kg/ha.)

Written by

Latest Wine News