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Early Champagne harvest for promising vintage

Published:  21 August, 2018

Comité Champagne has revealed that the champagne harvest for 2018 is to start today (21 August) following an exceptional wine growing year and good weather.

The organisation said that the early harvest is due to the quality of the grapes combined with the optimal weather. It also said that this means that producers are hoping for a vintage year.

Champagne growers and houses have agreed to set the available yield at 10,800 kg/ha, with the expectation of stable sales in 2018 and forecasted growth in Champagne’s export markets.

This is good news for the champagne category that has been struggling in recent years against other sparkling sub-categories such as Prosecco.

In May 2018, market figures showed strong growth across the board in sparkling wine, with the marked exception of Champagne.

At the UK Wine Trends Briefing at the London Wine Fair, hosted by drinks trade analyst IWSR, figures revealed that Prosecco saw sales rise by 17.9% over 2016-2017 while Champagne continued to suffer from a fall in sales, dropping off more than 8%. This was due to consumers turning to cheaper and less overtly conspicuous styles of sparkling wine as part of their everyday drinking repertoire.

Comité Champagne has revealed that the 2018 campaign has been characterised by an unusually wet winter, with a record-breaking rainfall of 345 mm from November 2017 to January 2018. This has surpassed the previous record of 338 mm recorded in 1965, more than half a decade ago (53 years).

The months of April to June saw cumulative insolation of 750 hours, far exceeding the 630 hours average while flowering in early June and good weather throughout July and early August has resulted in “bountiful, ripe grapes”, it said.

Francoise Peretti, director of the UK Champagne Bureau, said: “2018 will be remembered as an exceptional year: exceptional because of its early harvest date and exceptional grape quality. Though it is too early to tell, producers are hopeful this year’s harvest will produce an outstanding vintage”.