For as long as I can remember, the end of my summer holidays has always coincided with the beginning of the grape harvest.
What an amazing way to start the year, by witnessing the sunny Champagne vineyard.

As every year, we carefully monitor the progress of the harvest, which is the result of a year’s work in our vineyards.

During this particular period we are always looking forward to knowing whether the quality of the harvest is up to our expectations.

It must be said that after the exceptional level of the last few years the expectations are very high! Everything was perfect! The quantity, the taste, the quality…

In some years, everything goes perfectly, leaving no room for doubt as to the quality of the coming harvest, as it was the case in 2018. Whereas for other years, such as 2019, we didn’t have much hope:

The terrible weather at the beginning of the year led to an icy spring.

Then there was hail, and finally a heatwave…

So how can we explain a rather healthy-looking harvest, which goes against all of our expectations?

Is the vine masochistic ?

An old saying tells us that indeed « the vine likes to suffer. »

Historically, it is true that the greatest vineyards are located on grounds that are not very fertile: the clay and rocks of the Médoc, the sand and granite of the Saint-Joseph, or even the rolled pebbles of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

 

 

Champagne is no exception to the rule.

In fact, one of our greatest strengths comes from our soil which is primarily composed of limestone, just as in the Reims mountains where most of our Pinots Noirs Grands Crus reside.

And yet, limestone is all but welcoming. It is porous and therefore retains water, annihilating all hope that it could become an agricultural land…

But nature is well designed, and the vine is then forced to draw a minimum of water and nutrients from the depths, which in small quantity, actually favours a balance between acidity, fruit, and sugar.

The best soils for champagne vines are therefore the ones with the most limestone.
On fertile lands that are irrigated by mankind, the vines would be extremely vigorous, but the grapes would be unfit for the elaboration of great wines, and would therefore only be consumed as table grapes.

Limestone is also what differentiates us from other bubblies: from sparkling wines, to cava or even prosecco.

If you play the game of the seven differences we would say:
• The origin is different
• The grape is different
• The method is different
• The climate is different
• The ageing in different
• …

So, if I were to produce an Italian bubbly with chardonnays and pinots, as they do in Champagne, with the Champagne method, would I then obtain champagne?

The answer is no, and we always come back to the importance of the limescale soil, which is unique to the Champagne land.

The same goes for the English bubblies.

I’m often told:

“But with global warming, soon we’ll make champagne in England! “
“Is that why champagne houses are investing over there?”

I’m not saying that English bubblies are not good, or don’t have a place in the industry, I’m simply specifying that they will never be champagne.