© Moët Hennessy
The official beginning of the grape harvest – the “ban des vendanges” – was announced on September 9th in Champagne. This critical period, which each year sees thousands of seasonal workers flow into the region to help with the grape picking, draws on the exceptional savoir-faire of the Champagne houses of the LVMH Group, which continually refine their expertise.
The harvest marks the end of the winegrowing year, which began last November 1st. Each of the LVMH Maisons – Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug and Mercier – has a distinctive vision of the harvest, taking into account orientations decided jointly with professionals from the Champagne winemaking sector. “Our approach is both qualitative and stylistic. Each Maison has its own signature,” explains Vincent Chaperon, Cellar Master of Dom Pérignon.
In Champagne, grapes are harvested by hand to keep the bunches intact, thus ensuring optimal pressing of the grapes. This year some 5,000 people will work for three weeks to harvest grapes from the estates of Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Krug and Mercier, spanning a total of 1,700 hectares (17 square kilometers). LVMH Maisons have loyal harvesting teams, some from Champagne and many from the neighboring Hauts de France region.
This year was atypical, nurturing great hopes for the 2019 vintage. The weather differed considerably from the habitual climate of Champagne, with periods of intense heat, late blooming and heat waves that allowed the grapes to make up the lag versus the usual cycle. At the end of August, the sugar concentration was twice the expected level, stimulating the maturation process of the grapes.
Vincent Chaperon expects “a vintage with moderate yield and very promising quality.” The hot weather and absence of rain during the maturation point to “concentration and richness”, while the relatively high level of acidity in the grapes could lead to “a certain tension” in the future wines.