The early morning weather is bleak and light rain falls intermittently; it’s 14°C. Then it begins to drizzle from time to time until mid-morning (meaning just a light sprinkle falls). The sky is quite gray but the weather stays dry the rest of the day, with temperatures reaching 21°C.
Our teams that were already at work yesterday are harvesting in the same vineyards – all but the Côte des Blancs teams. Based on ripeness test results, it’s wiser for them to head to Ay. Given the weather conditions, it becomes a bit more complicated.
As there are no striking new developments this year, I can take this chance to give you an overview of last year.
Winter was rather mild, free of heavy frosts, and humid. The spring was characterized by severe morning frosts from April 24-28 even though the vines had blossomed a week earlier.
With only 2% of its shoots ruined, the Veuve Clicquot vineyard had suffered very little damage. May was exceptionally rainy with an average of 133 mm throughout the entire Champagne vineyard. The very heavy rain in late May and early June led to mildew contaminations, with leaves and inflorescences bearing its symptoms throughout June.
Two factors unfortunately played against us. First, we were unable to apply the necessary organic products in time to 40% of our plots, early during the protection phase. We also had to wait for the soil to dry in order to protect the vines; we use grassy inter-rows and mechanical weeding beneath the row, as we have implemented a widespread discontinuation of herbicide use. We were still under a lot of pressure, but we remained sensible and were able to contain the mildew with an adapted program. We still lost 10% of the harvest, however.
June is extremely rainy. There’s little sun and cool temperatures. The full-bloom between June 24th and 25th, depending on the grape variety, happens under rather unfavorable conditions. On some plots of land we have millerandange (incomplete fertilization of small-growing seeds).
The July temperatures are seasonably average. The rainfall is still high, even though we’ve seen some dry periods.
August is hot and dry, with heat wave temperatures of over 30°C, even 35°C in the shade. A section of the grape bunches was exposed to the afternoon sun and reached 55°C; some grapes are ruined. Within some parcels, this causes a 10% harvest loss.
The first half of September continues dry and hot. Maturation speeds up with conditions like this; the sugar content goes up. The high heat burns the grapes’ acidity, yet both the leaves and grapes remain in excellent condition. And here we are in the last phase of a year that has already encountered so many obstacles, it’s the harvest. I often noticed that when a year was difficult and complicated, the harvest ends up being quite easy. Let’s hope it’s the same case here.
When I speak about our challenging year, I also am remembering our winemakers who endured difficult weather conditions for months – working in the wet grass that the mowers weren’t always able to tame. Bringing in a nice harvest would definitely be a well deserved reward on their part.
The workers finish their weekend a little damp after their hard work. The team’s solidarity and cooperation allowed for good work. The pay was well deserved and we’ll remember that the 2016 team is once again itself an excellent vintage.