The start of 2016 proved particularly challenging in the Champagne vineyards.
In late April, frosts hit almost a quarter of the Champagne appellation area and the buds were completely destroyed across 14% of the vineyard. In spring, rain, hail showers and storms followed hot on the heels of each other and in some areas rainfall was to two to three times higher than the average recorded for the past 20 years. The blossoming ended in late June, some ten or so days late. The vines have been damaged: the impact of the frosts and outbreaks of mildew should affect the volume available when the harvest takes place but the weather conditions over the next few weeks will be key to harvest quality.
As things stand, grape picking could well start around 15 September.
Champagne shipments over the first half of the year were up by over 1% compared with the first six months of the previous year and were over 2% up over the past 12 months. The French market remained slightly down (-1%), while long-distance exports are continuing to drive champagne’s growth (+9%), even more than European exports (+5%).
In this context, the winegrower and champagne house members of the Comité Champagne met today in Epernay to agree on a marketable yield for the 2016 harvest of 10,800 kilos/hectare of which 9,700 kilos/hectare are to be harvested and 1,100 kilos/hectare will be taken from the champagne reserve on 1 February 2017.
Market operators whose vines fail to achieve this yield will make up for the shortfall by releasing their reserve made up of wines from previous harvests.
On the same day, the Prefect of the Alsace Champagne-Ardenne Lorraine Region, Stéphane Fratacci, unveiled the plaque commemorating Champagne being given UNESCO World Heritage Status on 4 July 2015 with characteristic features being the Avenue de Champagne and the 320 wine-growing towns and villages in the area of undertaking. The ceremony was attended by the Vice-President of the Champagne Slopes, Houses and Cellars Initiative (world heritage), Pascal Férat, the presidents of the Champagne joint-trade body, Maxime Toubart, president of the Champagne Growers’ Union, and Jean-Marie Barillère, president of the Union of Champagne Houses.
Epernay, 20 July 2016
Thibaut Le Mailloux – Comité Champagne - 03.26.51.19.30 – firstname.lastname@example.org