Champagne: vintage 2002

After several winters marked by mildness and humidity, a cold, generally dry and sunny spell, persisted over Champagne from mid-December to mid-January 2002. These favourable conditions provided the opportunity for the rebuilding of the soils without provoking any damage to the vines since the cold arrived progressively and didn't cross the threshold of the fateful -15°.

The thaw started on 15th January and trimming the vines took place in a very mild, rainy and windy climate until the middle of March. Growth was quite advanced and budding was notice in the Côte des Blancs on 12 March.

April was largely mild, dry and sunny even if accompanied by some outbreaks of hail on the nights of 14 and 15 April, which were very localised and did hardly any damage. Budbreak occurred on 5 April for Chardonnay, 9th for Pinot Noir and 14th April for Meunier.

An episode of fresh and rainy weather in May did not compromise the development of the buds and upheld the early promise.

End of May/early June, some hail storms produced damage in Château Thierry (15 hectares), but above all in Verneuil and Passy Grigny (150 hectares) but a generally summer climate - hot, dry and sunny - arrived and flowering was rapid: 14th June for Chardonnay, 16th June for Pinot Noir and 17th June for Meunier.

July and August were variable with successive periods of rain and fresh temperatures and periods which were hot and dry. 'Mi-floraison' was 22th August for Meunier, 24th August for Pinot Noir and 25th August for Chardonnay.

The storms on 27th August activated some rot which was stopped by the dry and beautiful weather - sunny whilst rather cool - which asserted itself from 10th September until harvest. This exceptional climatic progression, characterised by a noticeable diurnal thermal difference favoured the health of the grapes and the concentration of sugars.

At the start of the harvest, which started on 12th September for the most advanced (Côte des Blancs) until 28th September for the last (Vallée de l'Ardre).

The maturity brought excellent results, with an average natural level of alcohol of 10.5% whereas the acidity was around 7.2 H2SO4g/l. The yield was 11,967 kg/hectare on average.

The quality of the grapes was perfect and the excellent harvest meant very high hopes were justified for a great vintage, expressive, powerful and balanced. The Chardonnay with exotic and floral aromas and a handsome minerality. Pinot Noirs were particularly powerful with good complexity on aromas fo red or dark fruits intersperced with spice, tobacco and leather. Meunier aromas offered fresh fruits, even stewed or mature. They were open, supple and round.

In general, 2002 was a 'well balanced' year and the wines are taut, straight, fruity, with body and are generally sound.

[Source: CIVC/translation FineWineJournal]

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