Two months ago it looked as if 2016 could be one of most disastrous vintages in Champagne’s history, but in this northerly, Atlantic-influenced region, vintages are made or broken at harvest time more often than not. Here is the latest vintage news received from one of today’s most talented chefs de caves, Frédéric Panaïotis of Champagne Ruinart …
“Harvest at Ruinart began on 17th September this year (20th at the historic Silléry vineyards), and finished on 1st October in the Côte des Blancs. The vintage was earlier than expected thanks to a dry, sunny August, and for the first time in many years, the Chardonnay grapes were harvested after Pinot Noir and Meunier. Conditions during the harvest were perfect for ripening, with warm sunny days and cool nights, and the grapes were in perfect health with few outbreaks of powdery mildew. Yields from the second part of the harvest were very satisfying, in particular Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and Pinot from the Vallée de la Marne.
“Tasting has now started and the musts are offering fresh fruit and a lively feel on the palate, demonstrating the high quality of the grapes. Alcohol fermentations finished in the first week of October, followed by malolactic fermentation. The reds were racked off at the end of September and appear promising.
“Overall, a challenging year has turned into a ‘miraculous’ vintage thanks to the high quality harvest, and we are looking forward to tasting the 2016 wines!”
High-res images of the Ruinart vineyards are available on request, and you can find specially commissioned illustrations of the Ruinart harvest by Ugo Gattoni on Ruinart’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/ruinart/