Champagne 2017: did harvesting start too late?

The official report on the harvest from the Comité Champagne from 20 September reads as follows:

Harvesting in Champagne. Picture credit: Veuve Clicquot

Harvesting on the Champagne hillsides has been underway in most production areas since 4th September and is now coming to an end.

The 2017 campaign has been marked by severe frosts in spring (clearing 23% of buds across the region) followed by an exceptionally hot and sunny spell between mid-May and the end of July. New heat records were set in many sites. Until the end of July, the vines remained in remarkable condition despite the lack of rainfall.

However, this situation was reversed in early August with a number of storms, some including hail at local level. With the maturation rate maintaining its momentum, the earliest vineyards began picking their first grapes on 26th August, making the 2017 harvest one of the earliest since 1950, preceded only by 2003, 2007 and 2011.

Frequent rainstorms since the start of harvesting, just when the grapes were fully ripe, have led to a careful sorting of the grapes.

Because of the frost and hail in August and the careful selection process, the maximum authorised yield set for this year (10,300 kg/ha) may not be achieved in every part of the region, with winegrowers and houses drawing on the Champagne reserve to supplement this year’s production.

The average alcohol content of the musts, frequently exceeding 10% in volume, paired with satisfactory acidity levels suggest the balance of the vintage is promising. However, as always in Champagne, the quality will not be known until after the first tastings of the base wines in early spring.

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2 Responses to “Champagne 2017: did harvesting start too late?”

  1. Charles Crawfurd says:

    Good old French bureaucracy getting in the way as usuual!

  2. Steve Pritchard says:

    And you cannot mess with August vacations!

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