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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!

The harvest in Champagne is the culmination of a year's work and is the main event of the year.

Despite all the work that's already gone into tending the vines there's still a little more to do to make sure that the vines are ready and the picking goes smoothly

Here's a short interview with Madame Gout of Champagne Goût- Demière ( Goût means taste by the way - what a great name for a champagne maker: Mrs Taste! )

Madame explains that she's hoping for good weather because that always makes for happy pickers and a great atmosphere. Perhaps that's got something to do with the fact that , as Madame says, when the sun shines the champagne  flows' à volonté' - basically help yourself to as much as you want. 

Sounds like a great place to be a grape picker!


Jiles Halling introduces My Man In Champagne's coverage of the 2011 Harvest in Champagne.  We'll be updating our Harvest blog everyday so be sure to click here to see the latest posts and add the RSS feed to your bookmarks!

The much anticipated 2011 Harvest is finally under way.

Despite forecasts of an ultra-early start to the harvest after exceptionally warm weather in April, a spell of cool weather in July and early August meant that the start date was pushed back quite a bit and most villages are not getting going until the last week of August - still earlier than usual, but not quite as dramatically early as was once thought.

The My Man in Champagne will be out in the vineyards on a daily basis to bring you the latest news and updates from the heart of Champagne so stay tuned.

Here's a quick video to give you a flavour of what's in store

Today marks the first day of the 2011 Champagne harvest!

With a cool and cloudy morning, temperatures expected to rise during the day, the harvest has begun!

A recent interview from France 3, with Pascal Ferat (President of the Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne, and Co-President of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) about the harvest this year.

Highlights from interview with Pascal Ferat:

Harvest start -> The majority of all starting dates will be between 19 August - 25 August. It is an exceptionally early start and definitely one of the all-time record early harvest years.

Next few days -> The next 15 days will determine if the quality of the grapes harvested will yield 2011 a vintage year or not.

Ideal climatic settings -> The ideal temperatures will be warm but not too hot during the days and cool with some freshness during the evenings.

Vintage -> In order to have a be classified vintage what is required will be cool evenings, beautiful and sunny days with no storms In respect to whether or not 2011 will be a vintage year everything seems thus far indicate that possibility as the sugar-to-acidity balance is quite exceptional; a rapid increase in sugar levels in the grapes whilst retaining a steady level of acidity too.

For further viewing of full-length interview with Pascal Ferat click here.


After many tests and repeat tests performed by the technical specialists at the Champagne Bureau (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, or CIVC) based in Epernay, France, yesterday the much awaited official decision was released publicly for which dates the 2011 Champagne harvest will begin.

The starting dates differ based on the village, and more importantly, the grape type.

Generally-speaking, those villages across the Champagne region which produce the Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grape varieties, will commence earlier than the harvesting of the Chardonnay grape variety begins.

This has to do with the requirement that the sugar levels necessary for producing a 10 to 11 percent alcohol are attained before the harvesting may begin. A key point to note is that, as with most champagnes which are blended (assemblé), the mix of levels of sugar in direct relation to the level of acidity is crucial to ensure the quality of the grapes to be used from the harvesting to make champagne, and thereby the taste of the champagne.

The balance of sugar and acidity is key in the harvesting of grapes. The higher the sugar levels, the higher the percentage of alcohol, thus yielding a final product which will be "heavier" in the taste, offering a more short-lived burst of intense flavour, but which will not last as long in the mouth. On the other hand, the lower the sugar levels, the lower the alcohol percentage, and the "greener" the taste will be, offering in terms of taste an immediate "harsher" flavour, but permits the producer to mature over a longer period of time the champagne in their cellars. So as with much in life, it all comes down to selecting the right level of balance, in this case between sugar and acidity levels.

As the Pinot Meunier and Noir variants mature in terms of sugar levels more quickly then the Chardonnay variant, these will naturally be harvested first, with rare exception.



For the complete list of 2011 Champagne harvest starting dates, with village and grape variety breakdown, please click here. (source: CIVC)

More insight to the 2011 Champagne harvest can be found here on My Man In Champagne, as it happens!