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Wine growers and producers in Champagne faced some significant challenges during the growing season of the 2021 vintage. A devastating 12-day period of frost in the spring reduced the crop by an estimated 30 per cent at the start of season. Throughout the spring and summer months, vineyards were plagued by persistent rain and incidents of hail, encouraging mildew and rot just as picking was due to start.

Early reports suggest as much as 60 per cent of the crop was lost; however, producers reported widespread differences in yield and maturity of the grapes, from vineyard to vineyard and from village to village. (Other wine-growing regions in France, Spain and Italy faced similar challenges during the spring and summer, with a serious reduction of this year’s grape crop as a result.)

The 2021 grape harvest in Champagne ran September 6 to September 27, with dry and cooler weather at the end of the season helping to preserve the quality of the grapes that were healthy enough to harvest. Some growers are drawing comparisons to the 2012 vintage, where despite challenging conditions, top quality wines were produced.

Producers are declaring there’s good potential for the wines made, although there will be a strong reliance on reserve wines made in previous vintages to produce the necessary quantity of non-vintage products. The previous three vintages, 2018, 2019 and 2020, are of outstanding quality.

Unfortunately, the regulation authority strictly limited production in 2020. With a lack of sales due to pandemic lockdowns, they were concerned about creating too large of a surplus.

Growers were allowed to harvest up to 13,100 kilos of grapes per hectare this year, but due to frost and hail damage and disease, few vineyards produced grapes in such abundance. In 2020, a hot and dry year that saw an early start to the harvest, on August 17, permitted yields were held at 8,000 kilos per hectare.

Although vintage-dated sparkling wines from 2021 might be in short supply, wine lovers shouldn’t have any difficulty buying bottles of Champagne in the coming years.

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