By champagnediscovery, Sep 1 2020 07:45AM
As I sit here writing these words, many of the Champenois have already hung up their secateurs; having completed the 2020 harvest. It will go down as the earliest on record with the official start date being Monday 17th August although picking actually begun in some crus on Thursday 13th. This makes the 2020 harvest a record breaking year, the earliest ever in the region’s history.
The warm dry summer ensured early grape maturation and fruit quality is high although the hot weather caused a fair amount of loss through sun damage. The biggest issue the Champenois face is two-fold: a vast drop in sales/export due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting reduction in yields. The UMC (Union des Maisons de Champagne); the body representing the larger houses – négoce were seeking a considerable drop in the permitted yield. The SGV (Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne); the body representing growers and grower-producers – récoltants were seeking to keep yields closer to the recent levels – 10,200kg per hectare (2019) and 10,800kg per hectare (2018). These levels are already considerably reduced with average yields around 12,000 kg per hectare. The final figure agreed upon was just 8,000kg per hectare.
There is a delicate balance or what could be argued an imbalance between the négoce and the récoltants, the latter of which have a genuine concern for their sustainability with payments for 2019 deferred to 2020 and 2021. The maisons are ensuing this line due to the huge hit in sales they have suffered but percentage-wise; grower-producers have been hit substantially harder. With far less grapes and bottles to sell in 2020, further income delays for the growers and a vast reduction in export sales there is rightfully considerable concern for their future.
So, if you enjoy the wines of top quality smaller domaines, please continue to support them by seeking out their champagnes through your local importers. If you are yet to dip your toe into the World of grower-producers and do not know where to look, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to point you in the right direction. Obviously, being from the UK we are best placed to offer UK based advice but do know a couple of excellent importers to Australia and aware of a few in the US.
Lee and Gita