“Today, 31 August, we are finishing picking the grapes in the Côte des Bar – and this is a completely astonishing occurrence. This has never happened before in the history of the House. The early conditions this year and the weather we have had this summer – warm and very dry – helped the bunches to ripen and led us to open the press houses early this year.”Christelle Rinville, Vineyard Manager
In fact, from the start of the wine-growing year, vines were ahead by 15 days compared with the last ten years which was itself an early decade. We continued to stay ahead throughout the intense growing season; everyone came back from their holidays early so that we could hit the ground running after 15 August.
We decided to open our press at Loches-sur-Ource, in the Côte des Bar, on the 20th of August and our presses at Pierry (for the Épernay region) and Rilly-la-Montagne (for the earlier crus in the Montagne de Reims) on the 24th of August.
Our ripening observation network (led by our teams throughout our vineyard) allows us to work out the best dates for opening our pressing centres; our aim is to optimise organoleptic parameters (alcohol levels, acidity) and the expression of the grapes’ taste characteristics.
Our teams took almost 750 samples this year throughout the entire vineyard and this meant we could optimise our picking circuits and maintain our aims in terms of quality.
At the start of the harvest, we feared that there would be a surge in temperatures and harvest operations would be compounded by too much heat, but our concerns faded away with the return of cooler nights and the decreasing risk of storms.
We have every reason to be delighted with the quality of this harvest. It is very healthy and there is no botrytis. And there are wonderful bunches of grapes too.
The yield is in line with the estimates made in June: fewer bunches but larger ones which make picking considerably easier.
We started harvesting with the black grape varieties (Meunier and Pinot Noir) which ripened a lot earlier this year. We had to be a bit more patient with the Chardonnay variety so that we could achieve what we wanted in terms of alcohol levels and grape maturity.
The last week of harvesting will be the climax of Chardonnay picking, especially in plots producing grapes for our Comtes de Champagne and plots for our cuvée, Les Folies de la Marquetterie. Particularly favourable weather, with no rain and lots of sun, will be a tremendous asset!