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Harvest - Snip Snip

So my champagne blog update continues! This is really a very, very interesting time of year for champagne wine and its production – with a manic burst of activity universal across all 30,000 hectares of vineyards that make up the appellation.


Today it happened; from all over Europe teams of people descended on the vines in the main Champagne region to start 2009's harvest in earnest. All harvesting of the grapes in Champagne is carried out by hand so it really does need plenty of people.


The harvest will last a fortnight or so, with different areas starting at different times – Nomine plan to start on the 14th – and the Aube area started at the beginning of the week. Interesting that “Champagne” is one appellation but that the region is in two distinct areas with the Aube (mainly Pinot grapes) actually 100k or so further south… Anyone who has travelled down the Autoroute A26, maybe en route to holiday skiing or to the South, must have slightly puzzled over this.


On a personal note, I am curious to see how laden the vines are once the harvest is over, considering the reduced permitted yield this year. However, with 2000kg/hectare heading to blockage (juice held in reserve for future years but which cannot yet start the production process) and the ever growing demand for ethanol, industrial alcohol and biofuels, I am sure there will hardly be any grapes left on the vines.


For Park Lane, we can be assured of continued quality, even though the product of this harvest will not be with us in non-vintage form until mid 2013 at the earliest. Always somewhat sobering (no pun intended) to think that the current bottles of non-vintage champagne available through us originate from grapes harvested back in 2005! Nomine are great quality recoltant producers but even they must get somewhat fed-up at what looks like market manipulation by all those big houses and negociants. I will look forward to learning more when I visit towards the end of this month.


And my children went back to school today – with the eldest two now 8.15am to 6pm; by any standards that is a good day’s work!