Champagne champions reserve system as yields down around 45%

Bad weather has hit this year’s Champagne harvest, with yields set to drop around 45%, the trade organisation for the region has said.

The Comité Champagne pointed to challenging weather conditions throughout 2021, with a 12-day period of frost at the beginning of the year, hail on several occasions, then persistent rain in spring which encouraged mildew in the vines.

“These various hazards have caused big differences in the yield and maturity of the grapes, from parcel to parcel and/or varietal to varietal,” the organisation said as the harvest kicked off on 6 September. 

Francoise Peretti, director of Champagne Bureau UK, told Drinks Retailing that yields are likely to be down 45%, but she was keen to highlight the region’s reserve system, which aims to protect supply from climate hazards.

The Comité Champagne has set a very high maximum yield, at 13,100 kg per hectare. Grapes harvested between 10,000 kg per hectare and 13,100 kg per hectare must be put in reserve stocks, though upper limits also apply. 

The Comité Champagne stressed that this year’s “exceptional” weather conditions may impact the quantity of grapes, but not the quality. “The people of Champagne are accustomed to work in difficult conditions,” said co-president of the Comité Champagne Jean-Marie Barillère.“They take pride in dealing with each year’s conditions to produce the great wine that is Champagne.” 

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