A special harvest
2021 is a year marked by climatic hazards, and therefore, it was necessary to stay vigilant to ensure the best grapes in the vineyards would be harvested. Florent Roques-Boizel shares his first thoughts with us about this year’s harvest.
Florent, can you tell us what your opinion about this 2021 vintage is ?
After an extremely difficult growing year for our vines, we were expecting a complicated harvest. Fortunately, we eventually felt relieved and even pleasantly surprised. Whether it is about the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Meunier, all of them show good ripeness. Musts are aromatic and, above all, have high acidity levels. This is one of the main distinguishing features of this year. The ripeness of the grapes combined with a very good acidity level reminds us of the quality of the 1996 or 2012 vintages, which produced wonderful wines for aging. All of this will be confirmed during base wine tastings (known locally as ‘vins clairs’) that will occur next January, but I think we are likely to have very nice surprises, even though quantities are limited.
What made this year unique ?
This year was special, not to say extremely complicated! After severe spring frosts and heavy rains in June, storms, and hailstorms, which occurred at the end of June until mid-July, the weather remained dull throughout all summer. Vineyards were severely affected by mildew, which was especially present in some areas with an intensity never ever seen before, and to a lesser extent by oidium and botrytis.
Therefore, we made sure to pick up healthy grapes without taking the risk of waiting for a level of maturity that would be too high. We took special care of the Chardonnay grapes, which were collected at the end of the harvest. We made sure to pick them up quickly as soon as they had ripened adequately, without over-ripening. Otherwise, we were at risk of losing part of the harvest without any guarantee to get better quality. In fact, this 2021 harvest required a very special sorting process when picking up the grapes in order to keep the best ones only. As a result, yields were lower than what the Champagne appellation allows them to be, but this made it possible to keep a good quality for harvested grapes. We stood by the following motto, ‘few grapes but good quality’, until the last day, and are proud of the quality of the grapes that are now part of our winery.
How do you picture the next winemaking steps after the 2021 harvest ?
Facing a limited quantity of grapes, our approach is simple: we isolate some batches, while focusing on our main range and our multi-vintages cuvées. Our reserve wines will play a very important role, especially due to the small quantity of grapes harvested this year. We will give priority to the quality of the blends, while putting aside some wines, which will be able to be part of the blends but also produce terroir-specific Champagnes if the quality of the grapes and base wines are confirmed throughout tastings. It is now up to us to bring out the best of the wines resulting from this special harvest.