Harvest at AR Lenoble began on 24th August 2018 and ended on 4th September 2018. The 2018 harvest in Champagne is already rich in superlatives: “the earliest” – “the most generous” – “the healthiest” – “the most beautiful”
Here are our very first thoughts about the 2018 harvest at Champagne AR Lenoble:
If the 2003 harvest (which began on 18th August) remains in our memories as the earliest harvest in Champagne, 2018 will be remembered as the one that surprised all of us by its precocity, a factor directly linked to an extremely hot and dry summer in Champagne.
After flowing in June, we anticipated a harvest around 1st September, but then the intense summer heat accelerated the growing cycle. For some in the southernmost regions of Champagne, harvest began as early as 20th August, although in the area surrounding Epernay, most people starting picking around 24th August.
Once again, we are witnessing the phenomenon of climate change that is disrupting our benchmarks as well as our equilibrium. In this context, the recent launch of “mag 14”, the creation of which was directly inspired by the increasing need to preserve freshness in our reserve wines, takes on an even more powerful resonance.
2018 was indeed a generous year with an average yield of around 16 500 kilograms per hectare in Champagne. Already anticipating a high yield after flowering, Antoine conducted a green harvest in July in order to limit the number of bunches. Cover crops of grass amongst the vines also helped us to reduce yields, resulting in an average of 14 400 kilograms per hectare. If only 10 800 kilograms per hectare can be declared in 2018 according to the Champagne appellation, the balance will allow us to supplement our perpetual reserve and to conduct qualitative work on our oldest vines.
The heat along with the nearly complete absence of rain in July and August allowed us to harvest grapes in absolutely perfect health. Although we were initially afraid of excessive maturity and weak acidity, that wasn’t the case. Quite miraculously, we found degrees with a very correct average (about 10.4°) with surprisingly good acidity given the summer heat, averaging around 5,8g/l to 6g/l. Although the balance is therefore quite promising, we prefer to wait until January 2019 to taste the resulting vins clairs in order to evaluate the exact nature of the 2018 harvest. Several years ending in “8” have indeed been excellent, including the 2008 vintage and the 1988 vintage (a small number of bottles of which will be released at the end of this year after 29 years on the lees) so we hope to be able to announce the creation of a magnificent future Vintage 2018 next year. Only time will tell so watch this space!
The 2018 harvest will be remembered as one defined by a very beautiful crop harvested under the August sun that presenting magnificent, healthy grapes. In addition, it also confirmed the decisions we made almost ten years ago to conserve our reserve wines differently. As the summer of 2018 proved once again, it is essential to pay attention to the freshness of our wines in Champagne, now more than ever.
This post is also available in: Anglais