RSS Feeds

Advanced search

You are in:


Top houses comment on 2009 Champagne harvest

Enough time has passed now for us to properly appreciate the quality of the 2009 wines.  

The year has been an atypical one, which aroused unaccustomed enthusiasm in many of us before the harvest. The grapes were satisfactorily ripe, although they never quite reached the level we had so hoped for. It will be worthwhile analysing the phenomenon.

The healthy conditions remained right up to the last day of picking. After the relative disappointment of the very first tastings, the wines have settled and developed, and now promise a lot of distinction. Extremely fine and very different from those of 2008: we can look forward to comparing the respective merits of the two vintages for many years to come.  2008, concentrated, intense, with an unashamed balance in acidity. 2009, just as well structured but more rounded, richer, fleshier, at this stage much more seductive.

Whether fruity or floral, the Pinots Meuniers are always very pure, well balanced and rather easy-going. The best of them come in the white version of the variety.

On the whole perhaps slightly less homogeneous than what we are accustomed to, the Chardonnays are full-bodied, remarkably well balanced, fat, energetic, with very persistent aromas.

The Pinot Noirs, from whatever origins, promise strong presence and good structure. At their best they are the revelation of the year, powerful, with aromas of exotic fruit, spices, supple, rich, with an exceptionally good finish.

2009 has a high vintage potential and is an apt finish to a decade in which nature has been very generous to all the Champagne producers.

VEUVE CLICQUOT – report by Dominique Demarville, chef de cave

The viticultural year was difficult, particularly during the spring.  The humid conditions led to strong outbreaks of mildew which resulted in a disrupted flowering season during June.  
Luckily summer was virtually perfect, with August being particularly dry and hot.  Also the maturation process was constant without interruption.  Harvest began in ideal conditions and we were able to begin picking with a smile!  The grapes were very healthy, with no signs of grey rot and those bunches affected by mildew in the spring had completely recovered.  However, the first tastings of the must showed a little heterogeneity between the bunches.  Some were very ripe, with lots of fruit, but others were a little more austere with fewer grapes.
The harvest began on average towards September 10 for the Chardonnays and was mostly completed by the end of September, finishing with the Pinot Noirs from the north of the Montagne de Reims.  Yields were good - 13,500 kg/ha on average – with Chardonnay the weakest, followed by Pinot Meunier and finally Pinot Noir, which was particularly plentiful.
Average potential alcohol was 9.8% vol, with acidity of 7.6g/l H2SO4 and a pH of 3.02.  The musts were beautifully balanced with a good, frank mouthfeel.  The alcoholic and malolactic fermentations were very rapid, finishing before the end of October.  (All our wines at Veuve Clicquot go through malolactic fermentation).  This gave us extra time to taste the still wines – at least twice.
The wines are firm with fine aromatic character.  A certain elegance is apparent, but without great complexity.  In the mouth, the attack is direct and lively, but in the mid palate, in certain wines, a lack of character and structure can be detected.  The finish is good, fresh, but sometimes a little dry, austere or even vegetal.
At the beginning of January we agreed not to make a vintage 2009 at Veuve Clicquot.  Although it has been a very good year for grapes in terms of overall homogeneity and health, the resulting wines are too varied, certainly due to the difficult flowering.  We prefer to use the best quality wines from this vintage for our flagship non vintage Yellow Label.

1 March 2010 - Benoit Gouez