THE CHAMPAGNE 2020 HARVEST REPORT “SPLENDIDE!”

2020 completes an exceptional trilogy for the harvest: as in 2018 and 2019, the weather conditions have offered a very high-quality harvest, which is one of the requirements to make a great wine. The beginning of the year was particularly wet with the dampest February on record. Heat and drought set in mid-March and the vines were 16 days ahead on a 10-year average; it will not lose this edge, even registering an exceptionally fast maturation process the week before the harvesting.

While last year’s temperature record was broken (42.9°C), this year it was the driest July in history. Due to the drought, the grapes are of a lighter weight than average but in excellent sanitary condition. The musts are well balanced, fruity, with a beautiful freshness and a great aromatic expression; the alcoholic degree lies between 10 and 10.5% vol.

The year 2020 is, of course, characterized by the health safety measures linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, which had to be put in place for the 120.000 seasonal workers recruited in vineyards or pressing centres.

Given the maximum yield limited to 8,000 kg/ha, the harvest was carried out, individually, a little faster than usual but spread over a normal period of about three weeks, given the heterogeneity of maturation between vintages and grape varieties. The tasting of berries and seeds and the analysis of the sugar content present in the grapes allow each winemaker to adapt the beginning of his harvest and optimize his grape picking circuit, plot by plot, at optimum maturity.

With the superb trilogy 2018, 2019, 2020, Champagne should have in a few years blends and, probably, exceptional vintages, all living up to the celebrations of the event that the whole world is waiting for: the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

French Version

′′2020 complète en effet une trilogie exceptionnelle : comme en 2018 et en 2019, les conditions météorologiques ont offert une récolte de très grande qualité, première des conditions pour élaborer un grand vin. Le début de l’année a été particulièrement arrosé avec le mois de février le plus humide jamais enregistré. Chaleur et sécheresse s’installent dès la mi-mars et la vigne débourre avec 16 jours d’avance sur la moyenne décennale ; elle ne perdra plus cette avance, enregistrant même une dynamique de maturation exceptionnellement rapide la semaine précédant le ban des vendanges.

Alors que l’an passé, le record de température avait été battu (42,9°C), cette année, c’est le mois de juillet le plus sec de l’histoire qui a été enregistré. En raison de la sécheresse, les grappes sont d’un poids inférieur à la moyenne mais dans un excellent état sanitaire. Les moûts sont équilibrés, fruités, présentent une belle fraîcheur et une grande expression aromatique ; le degré alcoolique se situe entre 10 et 10,5% vol.

L’année 2020 se singularise bien sûr par les mesures de sécurité sanitaires liées à l’épidémie de Covid-19 qui ont dû être mises en place pour les quelque 120 000 saisonniers recrutés dans les vignes ou les centres de pressurage.

Compte tenu du rendement maximum limité à 8 000 kg/ha, la récolte a été effectuée, à titre individuel, un peu plus rapidement que d’habitude mais s’est étalée sur une durée normale d’environ trois semaines, compte tenu de l’hétérogénéité de maturation entre crus et entre cépages. La dégustation de baies et de pépins et l’analyse du taux de sucre présent dans les raisins permettent à chaque vigneron d’adapter le début de sa vendange et d’optimiser son circuit de cueillette du raisin, parcelle par parcelle, à maturité optimale.

Avec la superbe trilogie 2018, 2019, 2020, la Champagne devrait disposer dans quelques années d’assemblages et, probablement, de millésimes exceptionnels, à la hauteur des célébrations de l’événement que le monde entier attend : la fin de la pandémie Covid-19 ′′.

Source : Comité Champagne

Reims Tourism Office offers free Champagne to promote tourism

Attracting tourists post-Covid is undoubtedly a challenge. The Greater Reims Council has launched a new initiative called “Champagne, to make your summer awesome!” Visitors to the city will be treated to a bottle of grower Champagne. The greeting has an undeniably elegant touch, though there are some strings attached.

 

A total of 3,000 bottles, sourced from 68 different producers, will be given (one/adult) to those who qualify. The giveaway is said to have cost €50,000.

 

This initiative was launched July 15 and is subject to certain criteria. To qualify, tourists must spend at least two consecutive nights in the City of Reims, or the surrounding area, and stay in a hotel, guesthouse or gîte. Airbnb does not qualify. Also, during their trip, visitors must eat in a local restaurant and order at least one dish and drink. Fast food outlets are excluded from the list. Finally, in order to qualify, tourists must provide proof that they have paid for one leisure activity, such as renting a kayak, a winery visit, bike hire, or cinema ticket. Once they have paid for these holiday treats, visitors are required to go to the Reims tourist information office to receive their complimentary bottle.

This follows news of poor sales of Champagne during the Covid-19 pandemic. Industry body Comité Champagne said that sales were down 32% for the period January to May compared to the same period in 2019.

Comité Champagne launches (free) online course for trade professionals

The platform www.champagne-mooc.com offers insights designed for trade professionals who want to improve their knowledge of presenting, tasting, and selling Champagne. There are two versions available: the Classic Version and the Premium Version.  The courses are aimed at sommeliers, wine merchants, buyers, and sales representatives.

The Classic version, which is free, provides access to four educational modules: the Champagne making process; the Champagne terroir; the history and economy of Champagne; and diversity and tasting.

The Premium version costs E49 and has the same four education modules offered on the Classic course,  with additional content including extra videos, a test to assess the delegate’s knowledge, and the option to receive an official statement of completion.

The total course runs for less than five hours and the platform is available 7/24, with the option to start and pause at any time. The platform is available in both French and English with the possibility of subtitles in German, English, Chines, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Russian.

Champagne Sales 2018: Record High of €4.9 billion

Total volume of Champagne shipments declined by 1.8% in 2018 to 301.9 million bottles, with a total turnover reaching €4.9 billion – 0.3% higher than in 2017.

As reported by the Comité Champagne at Prowein today, exports of Champagne are on an upward trajectory, rising by 0.6% in volume and 1.8% in revenue.

In Champagne’s more traditional markets of France and the UK, which together account for 60% of total sales, volumes dropped by around 4% each, while by value turnover slipped by around 2% in both markets.

The UK market, which remains the largest export market by volume, imported 26.7m bottles in 2018, a decline of 3.6%, while value reached €406.2m, a drop of 2.2% – making it the second biggest export market by value after the USA.

However, demand is most dynamic beyond the European Union. The USA, which remains the biggest export market by value and second biggest by volume, saw exports rise by 2.7% to 23.7 million bottles. To Japan, exports increased by 5.5% to 13.6 million bottles, while exports to the “Chinese triangle” (mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) increased by 9.1% to 4.7 million bottles.

Following very significant growth over the past decade (+134%), Australia saw imports of Champagne dip slightly, by 1.8%, to 8.4m bottles, which was attributed to a “less favourable exchange rate”.

Other countries are emerging stronger for Champagne, including Canada which increased its imports by 4.8% to 2.3 million bottles, Mexico by 4.3% to 1.7m bottles, and South Africa, where sales topped the million-bottle mark for the very first time, recording growth of 38.4% by volume and by 43.4% by value – the highest increase of any market on both counts.

“The 2018 results validate the value creation strategy of the Champagne region, based on a continual pursuit of exceptional quality and rigorous environmental targets,” the Comité Champagne said. “From an agronomic point of view, 2018 was an unprecedented year with a bumper harvest of outstanding quality, boding extremely well for the future Champagne cuvées.”

Champagne shipments* over the past 10 years:

2018: 301.9m

2017: 307.3m

2016: 306.1m

2015: 313m

2014: 307m

2013: 305m

2012: 309m

2011: 323m

2010: 319m

2009: 293m

Source:  Drinks Business and Just Drinks

THE COMITÉ CHAMPAGNE’S LONDON TASTING GETS NEW NAME AND NEW VENUE

Françoise Peretti, Director of the UK Champagne Bureau has confirm that the Annual Champagne Tasting has now been rebranded as “The Official #Champagne Experience Day.”  The event is officially planned for March 29 and will be held at the art and design college Central Saint Martins in King’s Cross.

The venue has good natural light with massive space, covering more than 800m2.

As for the content of the newly-rebranded event, Peretti said that the Comité Champagne would be introducing three tutored masterclasses to run alongside the tasting, and would be expanding the themed central tasting table to reflect the major stylistic trends of Champagne.

As well, there will be a free-pour tasting area that will increase to cover three types of Champagne, with vintage and rosé both confirmed, although the third theme is yet to be decided.

Central to the event, like previous Comité Champagne tastings in London, will be over sixty tables for the major brands to showcase their latest releases.

In terms of target audience, Peretti said that the day would be designed to attract buyers from the off- and on-trade, as well as media from trade and consumer press, along with those from both digital and printed publications.

According to Peretti, a particular focus this year will be writers from lifestyle, travel and environmental media following the acceleration in wine tourism and sustainable viticulture in Champagne prompted by the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing for the region, which was achieved in July 2015.

She also announced that the Comité Champagne was planning a “stand alone” event specifically for wine educators, which she said was necessary to meet their particular needs.

Here is an overview of the changes:

  • The Annual Champagne Tasting has been rebranded as The Official #Champagne Experience Day;
  • While it will retain its slot in the month of March, it will be held on 29 March – two weeks later than its usual timing;
  • The Official #Champagne Experience Day will be held at art and design college Central Saint Martins in King’s Cross;
  • The event will keep the individual brand tables, but will introduce three themed central tables reflecting the key styles of Champagne in growth, including vintage and rosé;
  • The revamped tasting will include more content, such as three tutored Champagne masterclasses, with space for up to 40 attendees at each one; and
  • The Comité Champagne is planning a standalone event to address the specific needs of wine educators.