Wine News: Champagne Approves Lower Planting Density

One year after Champagne growers voted to change the needed distance between vines, the Champagne initiative ‘vignes semi-larges’ has been finally approved by the Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité, but with considerable opposition.

This means that the necessary distance between rows of vines will soon be increased to 2.2 meters, up from the current maximum of 1.5 meters, a measure which has stood for more than 100 years.

Last year, Maxime Toubart, President of the Syndicat General des Vignerons del la Champagne (SGV) said the apparent environmental benefits of such a move, “it will help us to achieve our objectives of zero herbicides, 50 percent fewer pesticides and 25 percent fewer carbon emissions by 2025.”

Some members feel that the main objective of the initiative is to cut costs associated with cultivation. And there are fears that VSL is paving the way for mechanical harvesting in Champagne.

Though the environmental benefits states Toubart would certainly be worth celebrating, it’s worth noting that the VSL initiative is optional and thus the extent of carbon emissions reduction will depend on how many producers actually choose to replant.

Having said that, a study conducted by the SGV over the course of 15 years in conjunction with growers, Champagne houses and scientists which found that larger spacing between vines could lead to a 20-percent reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions.

The NoVSL collective, which as its name suggests is against the initiative, believes that the adoption of VSL will lead to a decrease in quality.

“Under the cover of environmental concerns they are implementing a business project of cost-cutting,” said Patrick Leroy of the CGT-Champagne trade union at the time of last year’s vote among Champagne growers.

#champagne #champagnelovers #wine #winenews #winelovers #champagnegrowers #vineyards #vines #champagnelive #winetrends #climatechange #winetrends

 

Climate change forces an early start to Champagne Harvest

Picking officially commenced in Champagne last Saturday with start dates spread between August 20 and September 6th, depending on the location of the vineyards in the 34,000-hectare region.

The timing of the harvesting is guided by the Réseau Matu, which is a network of hundreds of representative vineyard plots spread across the appellation.

The harvest has begun far earlier in the season than normal.  This is a result of the extreme heat seen across Europe this summer. August harvests used to be extremely rare, they are now becoming common due to climate change. This warming weather may start forcing changes to how the famous sparkling wine is produced.

These high temperatures and the worst drought on record have also caused massive wildfires and led to restrictions on water usage across France, but they also boosted grape maturity.

The pickers are paid on what they pick and are rushing around in temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) as they have to pick the grapes before they become over-ripe and supercharged with sugar.

“I think we’re at the turning point,” said Charles Philipponnat, President of Philipponnat Champagne, “So far, global warming has helped: harvest in good weather conditions without rain, without too much cold, with ripeness and little rot.”

Producers across France are expecting this year’s harvest to yield a good quality vintage when it makes its way to market, a relief after frost and mildew fungus attacks in 2021, something dry and hot weather helped prevent this year.

“Following the remarkable rebound of Champagne shipments in 2021, including record shipments to the United States, Champagne is expecting an excellent yield in 2022,” said Jennifer Hall, director of the Champagne Bureau, USA.

Champagne shipments in the first half of 2022 were close to 130 million bottles globally, representing an increase of 13.8 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

#champagne #champagneregion #champagneharvest #champagneharvest2022 #harvest #Reims #champagnelover #champagnelife #epernay #champagnetourism #wine #winelovers #winenews #winetrends #climatechange

The Champagne Masters 2022: Results Announced

The Champagne Masters 2022: Results Announced

Now in its 11th year, The Champagne Masters has a long track-record of identifying not only the best in the category, but also the strengths and weakness of Champagne. In terms of unearthing the stars of Champagne in 2022, the judges picked out over 40 exceptional bottles. Drinks Business believes that it might have been the biggest competition that they have ever hosted.

This year The Champagne Masters took place on March 10 at London’s Coravin Wine & Bubbles Bar, with judges: Susan Hulme MW, Siobhan Turner MW, Patricia Stefanowicz MW, David Round MW, Jonathan Pedley MW, and Patrick Schmitt MW.

Brut NV
Brut NV was the largest sub-category by volume and the standard of Brut NV being made today is excellent (according to the judges); a product of better viticulture, pressing, cleaner juices, more reserve wines, longer times spent ageing on/off the lees, improved bottling procedures, along with lower dosages. Today’s Brut NV tends to mix depth and complexity with precision. At their best, these are layered wines, with honeyed notes, along with fresh fruit, and nutty, bready interest, along with dry and bright edge, ensuring that they serve that aperitif moment – for which they are crafted – brilliantly!

A benchmark in the competitive Brut NV sector is Piper-Heidsieck, especially its drier ‘Essential’, with a 5g/l dosage, although Lanson (both for its ‘Le Black and Le Green’ labels) is proving hard to beat, with its nutty and citric style. Also, Moët & Chandon garnered a Gold for its Brut Impérial, and, as the best-selling Champagne in the world, this fizz proves that it’s possible to be big and fine with sparkling wine. Indeed, scale may be preferable, giving one access to a wide range of wines for blending – a key for not just complexity and balance, but stylistic consistency as well.

Commenting on this sector of the market, Champagne Masters judge, Jonathan Pedley MW described it as a “mixed bag with a handful of delicious wines mixed in with plenty of basic stuff.” Continuing he said, “The latter were often young, raw and lacking complexity. The better wines had maturity and complexity – doubtless derived from the judicious use of reserve wines and extended lees ageing.”

Agreeing, fellow judges Patricia Stefanowicz MW observed that “Champagne will never be inexpensive and finding a number of exciting wines at the lower end of the £30-50 bracket with appealing fruit and fresh croissant or brioche accents, was a delight. Above £50 the Brut NV wines are excellent, and so they should be.”

Vintage
The first Masters was awarded in this category – an accolade reserved for those wines that are exceptional – with producers Joseph Perrier, Piper-Heidsieck and Henriot the sources of “wow-factor” fizz, to use Stefanowicz’s description for the best samples. Taking in harvests from 2014 back to 2006, it was notable how good the 2012s are, while the 2014s were showing their quality potential too. Recording the presence of “gems”; “A cluster of wines showed evidence of having been vinified from top quality fruit and then aged to add complexity and harmony,” Pedley said that this part of the Champagne offer is where the quality-to-price ratio seems to be highest. By way of explanation for this, he said, “With many houses focusing on Prestige Cuvées and other trendy things like Blanc de Blancs, standard Vintage seems to have become a quiet bye water where the consumer can pick up some excellent wines for sensible prices.”

Prestige Cuvée
Up next with the top-end expressions, Prestige Cuvée Champagne, there was more outstanding wines from the 2012 harvest, but also the first rate 2008, and, for a younger fizz, the relatively underrated 2013 vintage. Master-level quality was tasted from Deutz, Perrier-Jouët and Rare, as well as the multi-vintage flagship from Laurent-Perrier, called Grand Siecle, now carrying an edition number so one can find out the base wines and gauge the age of the fizz. Other delicious wines – if not quite Masters – hailed from some grower-cooperative producers, with Nicolas Feuillatte, Palmer and Castelnau picking up Golds, the latter for an exciting late-release from 2000 in magnum. Underrated names for greatness in this upmarket sphere included GH Mumm – it’s Lalou 2006 is delicious – and Pommery, whose Cuvée Louise is certainly a connoisseur’s prestige cuvée. Speaking generally about this category, Pedley recorded “glorious honeyed aromas and great length on the palate,” and “angina inducing prices to match.”

Blanc de Blancs
Testament to the increasing demand for Blanc de Blancs, this was one of the biggest sectors of this year’s Champagne Masters, and home to some fantastic wines, notably those from Henriot and Telmont, but also Mumm and Perrier-Jouët, Deutz and Delamotte, along with Piper-Heidsieck and Ayala, and Besserat de Bellefon with its grand cru bottling. Clearly impressed, Stefanowicz described the Champagnes as “pristine”, with “racy acidity”. Pedley recorded a more variable standard, and while excited by “butter cream” notes in one sample, said that some others seemed “simple”, with “an absence of leesy complexity and maturity.”

Such wines were, however, better than the blanc de noirs, which was “a small but slightly disappointing flight, marked by a couple of wines that were rather vegetal,” said Pedley, with the judges agreeing that Champagne does undoubtedly benefit from the addition of Chardonnay to the blend.

Rose
Finishing with rosé, it was agreed upon by the tasters that, with a few exceptions – such as the excellent samples from Laurent-Perrier, Perrier-Jouët, Pommery, Joseph Perrier and Besserat de Bellefon – to quote Pedley, “this was the biggest disappointment of the day”. Commenting that “Clearly making good Rosé Champagne is not as easy as a lot of people think,” he then recorded two types of poorer-scoring pink fizz: “At one end of the scale there were wines that were raw and simple, at the other end wines that were tired and lacking freshness.”

Stefanowicz felt similarly, commenting, “Whilst the range of colours was visual enchantment, many of the wines simply do not deliver on the nose and palate. And, of course, they are mostly expensive. That said, there were a few hidden gems. But, particularly at more than £30, I’d have expected much more definition and refinement than some of the wines delivered.”

Concluding on this category in the context of the overall competition, Pedley stated, “It is a bold thing to say, but if we steered consumers away from Rosé Champagne and towards standard Vintage we would be doing them a huge favour.”

List of the winners can be found here:
https://www.theglobalmasters.co.uk/awards/the-champagne-masters-2022/

#champagne #champagnelover #winetasting #rose #winecompetition #blancdeblancs
#rosechampagne #vintagechampagne #PrestigeCuvee #Cuvee #champagnemasters #brutchampagne #winelover #wineindustry #winecompetition #winebrands #winery #winebuyer #winebusiness #winetrade #piperheidsieck #champagnedeutz #moethennessy
#perrierjouet

Source: Drinks Business [UK]

Madame Pommery to be honoured for International Women’s Day [March 8, 2022]

Champagne Pommery will be celebrating and recognizing the achievements of Madame Pommery for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022.

Madame Pommery, one of the great widows who marked the history of Champagne in the 1800’s, played an essential role in the development of modern Champagne as we know it.

This year, focusing on gender bias, stereotypes and discrimination – challenges women have been fighting for many years, the house will recognize Madame Pommery as a woman who had great confidence in her decision making and used her success to help others – especially other women and workers.

Madame Louise Pommery took over her husband’s Champagne business in 1858 when she was widowed and left with an infant child. Madame Pomery wasn’t just a businesswoman but also an innovator – she came up with the invention of “brut” Champagne. At that time dosage was added to champagne which was varied and unregulated resulting in sweet wines; she wanted something more elegant and fresh. Madame Pomery also popularized the use of caves for aging Champagne and is credited with pioneering wine tourism.

It is interesting to note that Madame Pommery was the first woman in France to receive a state funeral, and was a key figure who valued difference and inclusivity.

@champagnepommery #Pommery #Bluevibrations #champagnepommery #pommery #champagne #champagnelovers #DomainePommery #caves #madamepommery #womensday #internationalwomensday #IWD #internationanlwomensday2022 #womeninwine #womeninwinebusiness #womeninbusiness

Mumm Millésimé 2015 – Virtual Tasting

Yesterday I participated in a virtual tasting with Cellar Master Laurent Fresnet of Maison Mumm to celebrate the release of Mumm Millésimé 2015. It was wonderful opportunity to see Laurent again and engage in the online conversation.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in the tasting portion (at this time) my bottle was stuck at customs.

What I did learn – Mumm Millésimé 2015 is crafted exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes and were harvested from the best plots of the Montagne de Reims Grand Cru villages of Verzy, Ambonnay and Verzenay, and the Chardonnay grapes were harvested from plots in the Côte des Blancs Grand Cru villages of Cramant and Avize.

Mumm Millésimé 2015 blend

75% Pinot Noir

25% Chardonnay

[100% Grands Crus]

Mumm Millésimé 2015 underwent full malolactic fermentation which reveals supple, round character, delicate toasted aromas and notes of biscuit.

The dosage is 6 g/liter (brut).

This vintage was aged for five years in Maison Mumm’s cellars beneath the city of Reims.

Maison Mumm’s style reveals the essence of Pinot Noir – with its power and rich, elegant fruit, the black grape takes pride of place in the House’s classic blends, to which Chardonnay and Meunier grapes add their inimitable floral and fruity notes.

Tasting Notes:  watch this space for my tasting notes in the next few weeks.

#virtualtasting #winelover #wine #champagne #champagnelover #winetasting #Mumm #Mummexplores #MummChampagne #champagnetasting #champagnemoments #MummMillésimé2015

@GMMumm