Champagne: vintage 2006

The beginning of the year is marked by a large water deficit in the first quarter followed two months of rain and little sunshine. Only positive note, is the lack of spring frosts despite or rather because of a persistent cool period delaying bud break which occurs April 21 for the Chardonnay, 25 Pinot Noir and 26 for Miller while the average during the period 1982 -- 2006 is 15 April (so delayed).

The return of a hot, dry and sunny weather in June promotes the progress of flowering and maintains a healthy state of the vine. Full bloom is registered on the average for the period 1982-2006: June 15 for the Chardonnay, 17 Pinot Noir and 18 for Miller.

This uneventful early season is quickly disrupted by thunderstorms and hail in the Côte des Bar and also to the south and west of Reims.

Early July stormy rainfall sometimes mixed with hail falls on an area stretching from north of the massif of St. Thierry to the left bank of the Marne valley. The cumulative damage covers 35 municipalities and 2,400 hectares. The equivalent yield loss represents more than 600 hectares 100% destroyed.

Clusters benefit from the beneficial effects of the June sun and the heat of July, but August is marked by moisture and freshness persists. The temperature is two to three degrees Celsius less than average values but it is the especially abundant precipitation that feeds endless anxieties. Rains in August are two to three times the usual amount.

The improved climate in early September stimulates the maturation and at the approach of picking the health of the grapes is very satisfactory with the exception of some outbreaks of botrytis. The heterogeneity of rainfall during the summer, 1 to 3 times depending on sectors, is reflected in the heterogeneity of the mature clusters. Champagne has never had such staggered harvest dates. They begin September 6 in the sectors most advanced (Chardonnays of Sézanne) and 25 in the later (Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and the Marne Valley).

The harvest took place in dry weather and mostly sunny. The average yield reached 12,997 kg / ha The sugar content is good with 10.2% vol. alcohol on average while the average total acidity is 7H2SO4g / l.

The wines of 2006 possess very good maturity. The Pinot Noir express great fruitiness and body. The meuniers are soft and fruity, the chardonnay is a little behind but very honorable.

[Source : Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne/Translation FineWineJournal]

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