Champagne

2022

Generous crop in terms of quantity. Quality as yet unassessed.

2021

Quite a contrast to the preceding hot years with a very rainy season and a succession of challenging weather events. April frosts and mildew dramatically reduced the crop, as elsewere in France - by as much as 20%. Grapes had trouble ripening and the potential alcohol, 9.9%, was as low as in 2013 and 2016.

2020

Damp weather was followed by summer heatwaves with temperatures over 40 deg C and subsequent heat damage to vines, this time end July and early August. Notably high pH, as high as in 2018, and the highest level of tartaric acid since 2009.

2019

A damp start to the growing season was followed by a dry and extremely hot summer with some losses to frost, hail and, worryingly, heat damage at the end of June and early July. Potential alcohols averaged 10.6%, as high as in 2012, but acidities were generally higher than in 2018.

2018

2018 was a bumper year for champagne, with ample yields to compensate for the smaller 2017 vintage despite substantial losses to hail. Hopes are high that the generous ripeness of the raw material will translate into single-vintage releases in due course. Total acidities were relatively low.

2017

Very tricky conditions, with a warm, humid autumn facilitating widespread grey rot throughout the region. The quality of Chardonnay was better than both Pinots, but whether any of them are released as single-vintage wines is by no means certain.

2016

As happened widely across France, frost and hail conspired to lower the yields, and potential alcohol, in the Champagne region in 2016. Quality is generally above average, with Pinot Noir preferred to Chardonnay. The vintage is likely to be declared for several luxury cuvées, including Cristal and Comtes de Champagne.

2015

Very little disease pressure, thanks to dry, sunny conditions over the summer months – the driest on record. Rain arrived in the final week of harvest, but most grapes had already been gathered. The berries tended to be small but with good uniform ripeness, and potential alcohol levels were relatively high at harvest. Richness characterised the vintage, and Pinot Noir did particularly well. Some excellent vintage champagne should be produced.

2014

A warm, dry September saved the crop from a damper, cooler August. The resulting fruit has good levels of potential alcohol, indicating ample ripeness.

2013 

Coming up on the outside lane in terms of qualty and longevity. A cool spring led to uneven ripening and one of the latest harvests in 20 years. Summer hail caused widespread damage in the summer months but overall the Champenois fared better than many of their compatriots. The vintage releases show great tension and will probably outlast the 2012s.

2012 

An exceptional vintage in Champagne. Despite low yields thanks to frost, hail and disease early in the season, August saw conditions improve dramatically resulting in exemplary maturity, acidity and grape health at harvest.

2011 

Notable for its erratic growing season, which started warm and dry but then became cooler and wetter in June and July. Conditions improved briefly in August but the (early) harvest was problematic and the potential alcohol of the musts was the lowest for many years.

2010 

A taxing year with dry conditions retarding grape development early in the season. When rain arrived in August it was torrential, causing widespread disease pressure. The return of dry conditions in September helped some producers over the line, but sorting in the vineyard and winery was crucial.

2009 

After early complications a superb summer produced a clean crop of high quality, with particularly good Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Wines are plump and were approachable quite early on.

2008 

Initially a difficult, damp year with widespread mildew; drier conditions in August and a fine, warm September proved many producers’ saving grace. Classically styled wines with fresh acidity balanced by sound ripeness achieved late in the season. Regarded as a standout vintage - until 2012 and 2013 arrived.

2007 

An unusually warm spring led to early flowering and optimism which soon gave way to disappointment with one of the murkiest summers on record. Conditions improved towards September allowing a fair crop, with Chardonnay outperforming the Pinots. Above average acidities.

2006 

An exceptionally hot and sunny June and July with grapes in fine fettle but a dank August left producers fearful of underripeness. Fortunately, warm, bright conditions in September redressed the balance. Wines are supple and expressive - generally more detailed than the 2015s.

2005 

Variable conditions throughout the year resulted in a lacklustre vintage, though favourable weather in the run-up to harvest meant that ripeness was assured. Acidities on the low side. Big-shouldered wines were made.

2004

Unusually, quality and quantity were both hallmarks of 2004. Structured, well-balanced wines which have exceeded expectation.

2003

Spring frosts followed by one of the hottest summers on record led to small volumes and typically very ripe wines of middling quality. Some fine Pinot Noir-dominant blends.

2002 

A magnificent vintage for champagne with near-perfect growing conditions, capped by fine dry weather at harvest. Ageworthy wines with plush fruit held in check by keen acidity.

2001

A generally poor vintage characterised by rot and underripeness thanks to a wet and gloomy September.

2000

Hail, rainstorms, unseasonable cold and mildew made for a testing growing season, but fine conditions in August and September redeemed the vintage. High quality wines for short-term drinking.

1999

Hot,  stormy year with the lowest acidity since 1959 which resulted in fruity, generous wines.