Champagne: vintage 2004

Despite the fact that the year started under snow and cold, an unseasonably mild period established itself from 5th January onwards. Punctuated by some very cold episodes in February and March, the mild temperatures continued until the spring.

In this largely easy-going climate exempt from spring frost, bud break started 12th April for Chardonnay, 19th April for Pinot Noir and 20th April for Meunier. A few days of cold at the end of April didn't halt the development of the vine and, despite the cold, the weather was dry and sunny and propitious for a good growing cycle.

The chaotic month of June, marked by significant differences in temperature, strong winds and hail storms (ten storms in the sector of Vertus and de Vaudemange, completely destroyed 400 ha.) did not, fortunately, compromise flowering. Full flower for Chardonnay occurred on 14th June, 18th June for Pinot Noir and 19th June for Meunier. It appeared from these that the yields might be particularly high.

Outbreaks of oïdium, detected since the end of May in the usually sensitive parcels, are of concern and, during June and July, a rapid action plan is put in place to master the infections.

The rainy rather unsunny meteorology of August, brought fears about the eventual ripeness which is developing very slowly. Fortunately, the first three weeks of September, hot and sunny, brought about a spectacular engorgement of the grapes whose health was excellent by the time of the harvest.

The harvest began 18th September for the earliest and 2nd October for the last but the majority were working from the 27 September. The weather was gloomy, more often than not quite cool, with a few showers and frequent morning fogs. The yield was exceptional - 14,000kilos/hectare, and the harvest lasted approximately three weeks.

With a natural alcohol level of 9.6% and a total acidity of 7.1gH2SO4/l, the musts' character was satisfactory, with balanced wines. The average yield was established at 13,958kg/hectare.

The 2004 wines are expressive and typical of their terroirs. Wines from Chardonnay mix complex aromatics (flowers, acacia, citrus...), balanced and good length in the mouth with a finish which is fresh and stimulating. The Pinot Noir wines are elegant and structured whilst the Meunier are generous and well-balanced. Their fruit aromas dominate, the palate is fresh and supple.

[Source: CIVC/translation FineWineJournal]

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