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Harvest 2011

Champagne Harvest 2011 BlogWelcome to the My Man In Champagne Harvest 2011 blog!  We'll be uploading new posts as often as we can over the next few weeks during the Champagne Harvest of 2011.

This is an exceptionally early harvest due to hot early start to the vintage so it will be exciting to see how things pan out and what the growers and producers make of the quality of the grapes.  Look out here for as-it-happens photography, information and the odd video.  Thanks for watching!

altLast year's  Harvest  was unusual to say the least.

After predictions in Spring about the harvest kicking off as early as mid-August , things didn't quite turn out as forecast because some unseasonally cool and wet weather in July and early August slowed down the ripening of the grapes.

Mind you, 2011 will still go down in history as the second earliest harvest ever. I believe there was one back in the 1800s  that was even earlier.

Be that as it may, it's time to turn our attention to 2012, but if you'd like to look back on the videos and articles from last year's harvest you'll find them all in the Library section.

Just click on the Library menu at the head of this page and you'll find everything there under the title Harvest 2011

Jean-Pierre Vazart is the head of Champagne Vazart-Coquart in Chouilly, a Grand Cru villaqge in La Côte des Blancs.

Its been a bizarre harvest this year for him too and in this video he explains why

Watch out for the loud noises, we were right under the press itself and there was a lot going on around

 

 

 

At Champagne Huré Frères we saw a traditional press in action. In today's video we pay a visit to Champagne Penet-Chardonnet in Verzy to discover a different way of doing things... followed by the washing up of course!

In this video you can see the juice as it comes off the press and discover how it is seperated into different batches. Just another of the many regulations designed to keep the quality of the finished product at a consistently high level.

 

Every harvest is a balancing act.

Do you start picking as soon as the official start date is announced so as to be sure to get the harvest in safely before any bad weather has a chance to set in, or do you wait to get even riper grapes and risk rain and, what's worse, rot setting in?

This year the best results appear to have gone to those champagne makers, who like Patrick, stopped their harvest for a few days in the hope that the rain would hold off and the grapes would ripen that litle bit more that could make all the difference to the final champagne.

That decision looks to have paid off. Patrick explains why in this short video 

François Huré is the current head of  Champagne Huré Frères in Ludes in the Montagne de Reims area of Champagne.

Before taking over the family champagne business François worked in wineries in Australia and New Zealand and learned to combine the best New World practices with his traditional skills from Champagne.

This not only means that he speaks great English but he also brings a dynamic and innovative approach to his champagne making

The 2011 harvest has been a good one for François. In this 3 minute video he explains exactly why

 

 

The harvest this year in Champagne hasn't turned out at all as expected.

In this video Jiles gives you some of the background to what has happened over the past few months and then, in the following videos we have three interviews with champagne producers who give their assessment of this year's crop.

 

In this final video in a series following a day of the 2011 Champagne harvest, with Champagne Henriet-Bazin, we get a nice close-up look at the lovely quality of this years Chardonnay grape harvest.

An exciting process now awaits Champagne Henriet-Bazin producer Marie-Noëlle as in time she'll decide if this years harvest will meet her requirements to be designated a vintage year status...

We close this mini-series with great grapes, and a very happy Champagne producer!

 

In this next to last video in a series following a day of the 2011 Champagne harvest for Champagne Henriet-Bazin, we see crate after crate of Chardonnay grapes being loaded on to a specially-constructed metallic palette.

Each crate weighs 50 Kg, and once fully-loaded, each palette will weigh a total of 600 Kg!

12 crates in all. That's 3 crates high!

That's a lot of grapes!

Once the palette is fully-loaded, a tractor will move the palette on to the back of a flatbed truck, for transport directly to the press room.

The reason for the max weight of each crate is 50 Kg, is to avoid the risk of an unwanted first fermentation beginning, due to the pressure, otherwise known locally as "auto-pressure".

As the first fermentation is not to take place until post-pressing (in the old days by foot, but today by a special hydraulic pressing machine), it would begin to taint the flavour and colour (predominantly only though a problem which occurs with "red-skinned" grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) of the grape juice as the amount of time the juice is in contact with the skin would exceed what is otherwise intended by the producer.

 

In this video we see the crates of Chardonnay grapes being transferred from the vines to a temporary "hub", before being loaded in a next step on to palettes for further transport to the pressoir.

Notice how muddy the path is, not an easy task transferring, even with the proper equipment, a crate of grapes weighing 50 Kg!

Hard work, so we'll be able to benefit in a few years time from a lovely 2011-based Blanc de Blancs from Champagne Henriet-Bazin...perhaps, even a vintage?

Only time will tell...

 

Picking the grapes is just the start of the work that goes into making your champagne

The next stage is pressing the grapes and you can discover what goes on in the press room by joining us on this visit to Champagne Huré.

 

If you have any questions about this video, about Champagne Huré Frères or about champagne in general just sent us an e-mail at 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

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