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Champagne harvest one of the earliest in 67 years

Published:  20 September, 2017

Champagne has followed the European trend of an earlier harvest this year with yields potentially affected by fluctuating weather conditions.

The region has seen every type of extreme weather this year, with 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 and hail storms in early August.

Echoing the Loire, parts of Spain and also the Denbies estate in Surrey, UK, harvesting started earlier than usual in Champagne.

The Champagne Bureau UK reports that harvesting on the Champagne hillsides has been underway in most production areas since September 4 and is now coming to an end.

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 this, and the frost and hail in August, the maximum authorised yield set for this year (10,300 kg/ha) may not be achieved in every part of the region, the bureau said, with winegrowers and houses having to draw on Champagne reserve to supplement 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,” a spokesperson for the bureau added.

“However, as always in Champagne, the quality will not be known until after the first tastings of the base wines in early spring.”