Champagne Deutz rapporterar om skörden 2011

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Spännande grepp tycker jag att ett champagnehus släpper en egen skörderapport. Att länder och regioner står för liknande info är vardagsmat men såhär, mer ovanligt. Och eftersom jag är sådär ohjälpligt förtjust i champagne, bland andra i Champagne Deutz kommer rapporten här.

THE 2011 HARVEST CHAMPAGNE DEUTZ
Precocious, stressful, variable … and finally satisfactory!

Late in May 2011, when flowering took place, the vine cycle was ahead of its normal state by about three weeks. At that point it looked as if we would be harvesting around the second half of August.
Then June and July were quite damp and cool: rain and occasional hail compensating for the overall water deficit. This enabled the plants to continue their growth, following nature’s whims. It also provoked sporadic patches of grey rot.

This dangerous trend was happily reversed by vastly improved weather in early August, which saw the sun shine again, bringing more seasonal temperatures.

The alternating weather pattern resulted in fruit set being irregular. Later on, the incidence of colour change in the grape bunches was therefore variable to the point where, on a single vine, some bunches coloured up rapidly whilst others remained green. Others were affected by grey rot which, fortunately, rarely got to the inner part of the bunches.

The bunches gradually grew in size and weight, reaching considerable levels! Average bunch weight was estimated at between 135 and 150 grams, which meant that the predictable harvest in the Deutz vineyards would stand at the levels prescribed by the “Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne” (governing body of the Champagne Industry), namely 12,500 kilograms per hectare.

Sugar levels, and hence potential alcohol degrees, also continued to rise, but, 10 days before the first grapes were due to be picked, acid levels started to fall rapidly, due largely to dilution caused by the continued swelling of the grapes consequential to the rain in July. We were worried about grape skins becoming fragile and bursting, as had been the case for some chardonnays, such as in the Bisseuil vineyard, in 2010.

With the return of warm and sunny weather, maturity continued to improve. In a tricky « stop and start » year, the announced date for the opening of the harvest, August 19th, came as a relief to most.

Yet the Deutz teams, lead by Patrick Boivin (vineyard manager) and abetted by Michel Davesne (cellarmaster), kept their eyes focused on the situation in each plot and decided to delay the first pickings, of Pinot Meunier in the village of Pierry, until August 22nd.

Despite careful management of spraying to protect the vines, which had resulted in them being in better-than-average shape prior to harvest, this was going to be a tricky one. Not only did the heat wave cause some of the pickers to suffer at the beginning, but the discrepancies in maturity levels between different plots, and even between individual vines, caused even more headaches !

Hence, until September 3rd, pickers were constantly moved from one plot to another with precise instructions and tasks. Secateurs had to be used with care and precision, almost like a surgeon’s scalpel, particularly in plots of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir affected by botrytis.

All these efforts were rewarded by the following results: average acid levels were maintained at 8.2 grams, and potential alcohol averaged 9.6°.

Some levels were particularly impressive, as with the Chardonnays from Le Mesnil sur Oger (8.8 grams of acidity and 10,7° potential alcohol). With such splendid “raw material”, there, as in the vineyard of « La Côte » in Aÿ, we found ourselves thinking in terms of « Amour de Deutz » and « Cuvée William Deutz ». And we also had a very fine crop of red grapes to produce red wine for our rosés, especially from the old vine Pinot Noirs in Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. The 112 hectolitres of red wine thus produced shows excellent colour and flavours.

This was also the opportunity for CHAMPAGNE DEUTZ to inaugurate its new press house in Aÿ, its historical base. According to the cellarmaster, the two new Cocquard presses « gave very satifactory results as to the quality of the must produced, with practically no heavy sediment and very clear juice »

The brand new winery, with its capacity for an additional 13,000 hectolitres, is now fully equipped to handle all types and scales of vinification or « micro-vinification ». The latter will be particularly useful in studying blending possibilities « that will –hopefully- have applications throughout the range » said Fabrice Rosset, the President.

Even if « Precocious, stressful, variable and finally satifactory » have now evolved to « serene », there is no point in hurrying things, and neither Fabrice Rosset, nor Michel Davesne or Patrick Boivin are going to be jumping any hurdles before they come to them in terms of the wines that will result from this harvest. « The wines will decide for themselves », and Deutz will be waiting until March or April 2012 before making its decisions.

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