This year’s Champagne harvest was the shortest in Bollinger’s history and the hardest ever faced by current cellar master Gilles Descotes.
Speaking to the drinks business he said “this year was the most challenging vintage of my career”, and noted that the adverse weather conditions meant the harvest was completed in just nine days, compared to the average 15-18.
Springtime frosts, hail and rot meant that some suppliers of Bollinger has to leave more than 50% of the grapes on the ground. As such, the average yield reached 9,500kg per hectare – lower than 10,300 kg per hectare yield set by the Comite Champagne in July.
As a result, grape prices are likely to rise. “Usually you pay more for grapes when the quality is high, but some houses need grapes for their growth, and the struggle for getting grapes is even harder than usual, so prices are going up – I think there will be a 5% increase this year,” Descotes said.
If this is the case, the average price of a kilo of grapes will surpass €6 for the first time in the region’s history. At €5.11 per kilo in 2007, the jump represents a 15.5% increase.
However, he told the drinks business that he expects shipments of Champagne this year to surpass 310 million bottles, up from 306 million last year, and that despite challenging production conditions, “it has been a good year” performance-wise.