Now that the 2016 harvest is in, its time to celebrate and reflect on what sort of year it has been. In general, England and Champagne (and Bordeaux and Burgundy) have been hit by frosts – which were devastating in places – and also disease. Luckily we avoided these disasters – the slopes of our vineyard may be inconvenient to walk up, but at least they let any frost roll off into the valley.
Our buds burst right on time in early April but as April and May were pretty cool the vines stayed as inactive as an early morning teenager. Their growth spurt took off in June and then they basked in the dry warm summer. September was particularly blissful.
Once picked, this year’s superstar grapes were the pinots. Both the Pinot Noir and the Pinot Meunier were very ripe with low acids and full round flavours. They were exceptionally good. Of course – like true ‘glass half empty’ farmers we then worried that the sugars were so high that we would exceed the legal alcohol limits for Sparkling. Don’t fret, we’re on it. The juice is delicious and we hope that it will make some great wine. We’re tempted to reprise our famous Blanc de Noirs. Its that good.
The Chardonnays were picked a week later and were lower yielding than usual. The small berries had great flavours and high sugars though and we think they will do very well in an elegant Classic.
We are delighted to have harvested ripe, clean grapes and the juice is now fermenting gently in the winery. The alchemy of juice to wine has started.
In short, 2016 harvest: lower yield, higher quality.
I’ll drink to that.