It has been a while since we answered some questions from our loyal (and appreciated!) blog followers, so let’s tackle one today and another on Friday.
QUESTION: I heard that there’s going to be a big Champagne shortage. Is this true?
ANSWER: It’s possible… but not necessarily a slam dunk.
Here’s what happened: The grape harvest of 2016 in the Champagne appellation of France was the lowest since the 1980s.
As you can read in this article by Decanter, the reason was bad weather, which led to rot and mildew in the vineyards.
So, there were far fewer grapes to crush and ferment, which would logically lead to a lowering in the supply of Champagne, right?
What a lot of people don’t now is that most Champagne makers keep a supply of wine on hand from multiple vintages. They use it to craft the cuvees that are referred to as “non-vintage.”
So the question that needs to be answered — and the answer will vary from estate to estate — is how much of a surplus is being stored in the cellars.
One possible scenario is that the percentages of certain vintages may be adjusted in the new cuvees, with more than usual coming from previous vintages.
Another possibility is that an estate could use everything they brought in from the 2016 harvest, and pray the weather is more cooperative in 2017.
The good news for wine drinkers is that there’s plenty of excellent sparkling wine being made in California, Italy (Prosecco), Spain (Cava) and elsewhere around the world.
Even if there ends up being a shortage of Champagne, there will be no shortage of fine sparkling wines.