Countdown To The Harvest

La Veraison will last about one month so it looks as if the forecasts made earlier in the year of an ultra-early start to the harvest, perhaps as early as August 16th,  were a bit over enthusiastic.

From now on the grapes will be analysed on a regular basis to check how they are coming along and the harvest won't start until everyone one is satisifed that the grapes are just right, but what does that mean exactly?

Well, it's mainly about getting a good balance of sugar and acidity.

Without a good level of acidity the wine will be dull and flabby, certainly not suitable for transforming into champagne which always has to have a refreshing zest and liveliness to it. What's more, a good level of acidity means that the champagne will have good ageing potential, another essential ingredient for top quality champagne.

The sugar in the grapes is needed to turn into alcohol during the fermentation.

During the first fermentation the grape juice will be turned into still wine with an alcohol content of about 10% abv ( alcohol by volume). Any less than this and the wine will lack body and won't have the potential to be turned into champagne at around 12% abv during the second fermentation in bottle.

On Monday the reading for the samples taken from the vineyards showed that the sugar content of the grapes was only around 60 grams of sugar per litre of juice.

It takes 16.8 gr/litre to produce 1% alcohol so to reach 10% alcohol the sugar reading needs to be up around 160-170 g/litre.

Quite a long way to go, then, and the vignerons will be hoping that the hot sun that we had in Spring comes back for a few more weeks. Right now though it's distinctly cool here in Champagne.

More news soon so do come back and check it out