Assessing the Chardonnay Shortfall in Champagne

    Champagne houses are predicting a substantially lower yield this year, according to Decanter.

     Regis Camus, chef de cave at Piper-Heidsieck, said that while he is confident of quality, yields will be down by 10%.

     Roederer and Taittinger suggested the same, with Chardonnay the main reason for the drop.

     While Pinot Meunier grapes will be “quite concentrated” and the Pinot Noir is “looking good,” Camus said, the same could not be said for Chardonnay.

     Launching three vintages — 1999, 1988 and 1979 — of the new Heidsieck cuvee dubbed “Rare” in London, Camus said global demand for Champagnes made exclusively or predominantly from Chardonnay would likely push prices up.

     As a result, there is a danger of too much “concentration on Chardonnay” when it comes to the predicted expansion of the geographical limits for Champagne.

     He urged growers to keep new plantings of varietals in the same proportion as they are now.

     Two weeks ago, Champagne Taittinger reported that the harvest would be postponed until yesterday, and that it would be “a more normal year” after the very large harvests of the last couple of years. In other words, the 10 percent drop is closer to “normal.”

     Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer, said, “The 2008 crop will probably be lower in volume, but we still expect it to be above the appellation limit.”

     Rouzaud also said Chardonnay would be hard hit. “We shall have to use more reserve wines for the non-vintage blends,” he said, which means there could be some relative bargains among standard bottlings.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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