By champagnediscovery, Sep 27 2018 10:59AM
Following on from two difficult years, many vignerons are hailing 2018 as the harvest of a generation. The long warm summer enjoyed across Europe was particularly evident in Champagne with some of the highest sugar levels recorded in the grapes. It was also a bountiful year with many growers recording their biggest crop – so on the face of it, there would appear to be both quantity and quality.
Acidity levels were lower and this was due to a low diurnal range – the difference between temperatures of night and day. Champagne is naturally a very acidic wine due to the fact that the normal climate is regarded as cool. This doesn’t seem to be an issue for many of the top growers and houses whom are confident that they will be able to produce great wines from this uncharacteristically hot year.
It wasn’t always plain sailing – it never really is. There were in places almost drought-like conditions causing the vines to go into hydro stress. Ideally, vines require some hydro stress so that they concentrate all of their efforts onto the berries but of course too much will be detrimental. Due to the high levels of sugar and heat, grapes were often becoming dehydrated and turning into raisins on the vine. What the dry conditions did ensure were healthy grapes with very little signs of disease, rot and mildew – issues that were prevalent in the last couple of harvest.
Once again, parts of the region and in particular the Aube were subjected to summer hail storms with large hailstones causing severe damage to the grapes. Here, problems with rot and mildew did become an issue and whilst these storms were often localised; it had a huge impact on those whose small estates were affected.
Overall 2018 does have the potential to be a seriously good year, but of course; only time will tell!
The photo below is of the very last grapes (Pinot Noir) of the 2018 harvest going into the press at the superb domaine of Lelarge-Pugeot in Vrigny.
Lee and Gita