2019 Harvest Report Champagne, France
Vinexion visited the champagne area after the vines have been pruned. After a brilliant year in 2018, both on volume and quality the champagne area has been holding their breath about 2019 due to the frost in spring and the heat in pre-summer. With a diminished bed of leaves the sun directly affected the vines.
Now that the harvest is done, many Champagne producers are very happy.
Most of them state that the yield is down in comparison to average, some even close to 50% for areas in the Blanc the Blancs. At the same time though, they report that the quality is close to, or even better than 2018, and with the high volumes from last year, many producers can use the surplus from 2018 to compensate for the loss in 2019.
Especially chardonnay was affected by the frost. Pinot noir is more resilient because after a frost this vine can produce new butts in contrast to the chardonnay vines who can’t. On the Montagne the Reims (more pinot noir), some champagne producers report no losses at all in volume so climate effects have had a very different impact across champagne regions.
For this year's harvest some producers even make the comparison with the iconic 2012 harvest: the last really exceptional vintage in a decade that lacked bad vintages altogether.
Favourable weather is also good for the rapidly growing number of bio or biodynamic champagne producers. Their terroir expression can be brilliant, but due to the lack of countermeasures for mildew and oidium (and the absence of sulphur usage), both volume and quality is under pressure in such a northern region as champagne. And, since most of them are very small businesses, life can be very though. If you appreciate wines like these, you’ll find a lovely little eatery (epicery) in Reims called “Au bon manger”, frequented by passionate biodynamic champagne producers.
Other troublesome news for this area is that due to tax regulations many family businesses struggle when parents pass away. Land prices are very high and the taxes need to be paid now which is impossible most of the times. Big companies are very keen on acquiring those lands to fulfil their own needs and the younger generation of champagne producers is faced with a dilemma. One producer reported that with receiving 8 euro per kilo for his grapes it’s hardly worthwhile of investing in your own winery. In the end we all lose because when the big wineries take over we lose the magnificent diversity in the region.