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  • Richard Hemming MW
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  • Richard Hemming MW
18 Aug 2011

The wine world is abuzz this week as reports of earliest-ever harvest times become known. The hot weather across Europe earlier in the year accelerated the growth cycle, and in some regions picking has started a month earlier than usual.

Bruno Paillard in Champagne says, 'We start Fri 19 in Cumières, Mon 22 in Le Mesnil, Tue 23 in Les Riceys and Verzenay, Thu 25 in Festigny... all approximately one month before "normal" dates. The maturity is high, as is the acidity, but each of them are moving - in opposite directions - very fast, plus there is a risk of botrytis if we don't hurry. It will be a short, intense, and hopefully superb vendange.'

Ch Carbonnieux in Graves started bringing in their Sauvignon Blanc this morning at 8 am. Their analysis of around 13% potential alcohol and acidity of 4 g/l providing 'optimal conditions in which to start the harvest', according to owner Eric Perrin. They were pipped, however, by Ch d'Yquem, who have already started to gather fruit for their dry Ygrec, according to

So, foreshortened holidays for the growers, but optimism about quality. Quantity is expected to be up, too, with France AgriMer (a government body concerned with agriculture and fisheries) predicting a total yield of 47.6 million hectolitres, compared with 45.3 milion in 2010.

See also Tamlyn's preview of the harvest in Vintage 2011 – precocious?