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Champagne crop badly damaged by frost

Up to a third of some Champagne vineyards have been affected by heavy frosts earlier this month.

Undamaged and frost-damaged spring growth (Image: Lea & Sandeman)

Temperatures dropped to – 3°C in the Côte des Blancs with villages like Avize, Cramant and Chouilly the worst hit, while there was more widespread damage in the Côte des Bar as temperatures there fell to – 5°C.

Low-lying areas in the Côte des Blancs and the Côte des Bar have been particularly badly affected.

Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs and the Grande Vallée de la Marne was the most vulnerable: it was more advanced with two or three leaves already growing in some well-exposed vineyards.

There has been widespread damage in the vineyards around Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Avenay. The relatively forward Chardonnay in the low-lying areas close to the Marne River, and also some Pinot Noir parcels, have been affected.

Moët & Chandon winemaker Benoît Gouez said that between 7% and 8% of this year’s crop had potentially been lost, with the worst damage in the grands crus of Avize and Aÿ, where up to 18% has been damaged.

The vines in the Côte des Bar to the south-east of Troyes, where Pinot Noir is planted, were hardest struck: Gouez said Moët had lost nearly 20% of its crop there.

Olivier Bonville of Franck Bonville, a grower based in Avize said, ‘Frost affected about 30% of our vineyard. After the warm temperatures in March the vines were already showing two leaves and we were also hit by frost in the previous week on the night of 12 and 13 April when temperatures fell to – 3°C.’

For Arnaud Margaine, a grower with vineyards in Villers-Marmery, the frosts of 13 April 13 caused less than 5% damage but the night of 16 and 17 April was colder.

‘We saw 15-20% of the vines damaged. But it is still too early to see the impact on the next harvest as some new buds may grow.’

Written by Giles Fallowfield

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