This year’s harvest in Champagne is good enough to be declared a vintage according to Cattier’s managing director, Philippe Bienvenue.
Speaking at a tasting of Cattier Champagne in London yesterday, Bienvenue said, “The acidity level and the sugar level in the grapes are both high and, although it is a bit early to say, given those elements and the good condition of the grapes, particularly the Chardonnay, we expect 2013 to be declared a vintage.”
Although he admitted that the harvest this year was not as good as 2012, which was deemed one of the best vintages the Champagne region has ever experienced, he added that 2013 was “not far” from last year in terms of grape quality.
Nevertheless, 2013 has not been an easy vintage, and Bienvenue said it was the latest harvest in Champagne for 22 years due to late flowering – a result of “miserable weather” in spring.
While picking normally begins in mid-September, this year’s harvest started on 30 September and finished on Saturday 11 October at Cattier, which is headquartered in Chigny Les Roses in the Montagne de Reims.
Jean-Jacques Cattier, tenth generation member of the Cattier family, who also attended the tasting, said that the Champagne harvest often started as late as October in the 60s and 70s, but since the 80s, such a late start was “rare”, and he blamed climate change.
Meanwhile, Bienvenue explained that while Cattier normally begins with Pinot Meunier grapes in the Montagne de Reims, this year the house picked the Chardonnay in this district first.
Indeed, he added that Cattier had had to ask for a waiver to begin picking Chardonnay grapes two days before the official start date of the harvest, which was 2 October this year.
Cattier’s Chardonnays have an average of 10% abv, compared to around 9.5% for Pinot Noir, he said.
As previously reported by the drinks business, this year’s yield is 10,000 kilos per hectare, giving a total yield from Cattier’s 33-hectare estate of 330,000 kilos, enough to produce approximately 330,000 bottles of Champagne, around 1/3 of the house’s total annual output.
Cattier used the tasting in the UK to unveil its new Blancs de Blancs Signature which comes in a white bottle, as well as the Glamour Rosé demi-sec with a 25 g/l dosage.
Later this year Cattier will launch a multi-vintage rosé from its Clos du Moulin walled single vineyard, while the house intends to bottle a vintage Champagne from this year’s harvest in a porcelain bottle, which, as previously reported by db, will be the first time a high-pressure sparkling wine has been packaged in this material.
The proposed new product will be used to mark 2013, which is Cattier’s 250th anniversary.
Cattier also produces the Armand de Brignac prestige cuvée which the house co-owns with Sovereign Brands, who exclusively distribute the product worldwide.
Famed for its gold packaging, high prices, large formats, and association with celebrities, most notably American rapper Jay-Z, Armand de Brignac now sells for 75,000 bottles annually, confirmed Jean-Jacques Cattier.