Champagne’s 2020 harvest labelled ‘outstanding’

16 September, 2020 by Andy Young

This year’s Champagne harvest is the earliest on record, with some crus beginning their picking on August 17, and Comité Champagne says the grape quality is “outstanding”.

This year continued the exceptional patterns of 2018 and 2019 and a top-quality harvest is the first requirement for the production of a Grand Vin, and 2020’s weather conditions were just right to deliver that. The start of the year saw high rain as February received the most rain ever recorded for that month.

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Heat and drought conditions then commenced in mid-March, with vines budding 16 days ahead of the 10-year average. This a head start was maintained with an exceptionally rapid ripening dynamic right up to the week before harvesting commenced.

Comité Champagne said: “Last year a new temperature record was set (42.9°C), and July 2020 was the driest ever recorded. Due to the drought, the weight of berries was lower than average, but their condition was excellent. The musts are balanced and fruity, with a fine freshness and a grand show of aromas. Alcohol measured in the musts range between 10-10.5 percent vol.

“With yields limited to a maximum 8,000 kg/ha, the harvest at an individual level was completed somewhat faster than usual, but picking was spread across a normal period of around three weeks, taking account of variations in ripening from cru to cru and between varieties.

“Tasting of berries and seeds and the analysis of sugar levels in the grapes allowed each winegrower to adjust the start of their harvest and optimize the order of picking, parcel by parcel, to hit the point of optimum ripeness.”

The Comité added: “A run of three superb harvest years means Champagne should be ready to offer exceptional blends and vintages in a few years, fit to celebrate the event for which the whole world is now waiting: the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.”