By champagnediscovery, May 9 2017 10:23AM
The villages of Champagne are now a hectic mix of grape picking, transportation and pressing with the ebb and flow of people, tractors and little white vans. The 2017 harvest is well under way but once again it has been far from plain sailing.
In the lead up to Champagne Week in April, the region was hit by a bout of devastating frosts with temperatures plunging to -10 degrees overnight. In years gone by, such frosts at this time of year may have been far less of an issue than they are today and the reason for this is climate change. Vines are now budding several weeks earlier than they have in the past meaning the plants are far more susceptible to these later frosts, 2017 were the most severe since 2003.
It would appear that Chardonnay vines across the region have been virtually wiped out with all varietals suffering drastically. Some producers may be in luck with secondary budding on some vines but this will be a waiting game. The damage precipitated by the frosts is far more reaching than the 2017 harvest alone. Come pruning time, it will be very difficult to establish how or what to prune. Indeed the vines may be so badly damaged that the effects will last for two or three years before the plants are able to recover sufficiently. The pictures below show a healthy vine bud on the left and one damaged by frost to the right.
Once again, summer hail brought more destruction to the berries with further hail hitting some areas the day before harvesting to devastating effect.
Following on from an extremely difficult 2016, it appears as if the Champenoises have another challenging challenging year. We sincerely hope that the 2017 harvest does at least bring quality fruit even if, once again; yields are low. Our fingers are well and truly crossed!
Lee and Gita