Different from other wine regions, Champagne is regulated not only in terms of the date when the harvest can begin but also in terms of the quantity of the grapes that are allowed to be made into Champagne.
In two centuries the harvest, traditionally a September ritual that can run into October, has not started as early as August 20th, but that is what happened in 2018 in Buxeuil in the Aube Region for all varieties of grapes. It has only happened five times (2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2018) according to Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) who is responsible for stating the official dates of debut for each village and grape variety, each year, for assuring the level of quality.
The maximum permitted yield for 2018 of 10 800 kg/ha was throughout the whole Champagne region, and with a harvest of 33,868 hectares of vineyard, the total production could potentially reach 310 million bottles although not of all of the 2018 wines will be bottled in 2019. Finally, champagne makers will be able to add 4 700 kg/ha of grapes to fill up their reserve wines after the unexciting 2017 harvest when, due to less than optimal weather conditions, the same maximum permitted yield was lower in several sectors of Champagne.
The weather conditions of this vintage were as exceptional as extreme. During November 2017 and January 2018, the Champagne Growers experienced a, not seen since 1965, record-breaking 345 mm/ha of rain. The rainfall allowed the subsoil chalk to fill up with water, to be released later during drier periods. After a long, cold winter came a mild spring with warm temperatures that, together with many sunshine hours, there was “rapid and vigorous” vegetative growth leading to a successful flowering in June. With average temperatures higher than the last decade, July and August were consistently warm, leading to the early harvest.
As predicted by Francoise Peretti, director of the UK Champagne Bureau, who said: “2018 will be remembered as an exceptional year: exceptional because of its early harvest date and exceptional grape quality", the harvest of the 2018 vintage proved to be generous in quantity with very healthy grapes, well ripe of excellent quality also the yield was far more abundant in sugar and aromas then average.
At the Champagne Week in Reims 13-17/4 2019, we at ChampagneHub tasted a wide array of the Vintage 2018 after alcoholic fermentation. As expected the wine is intense and vibrant with an extreme depth of flavours and tones, all showing very high potential and it will surely challenge, if not surpass, the historic vintages of '96, '02 and '08. We cannot wait to taste the final product, and to this end we are also excited in participating in the Paul Launois Vintage 2018 Single Barrel Auction, where we are offering the chance for you to buy shares of the barrel, and partake in creating the final Champagne - you very own personal and exclusive Vintage 2018 Champagne.