With about 90 percent of the harvest completed, winemakers and chefs de cave in Champagne are already tentatively suggesting that 2013 will be a vintage year.
The Champagne region has had a relatively easy ride this year compared to the rest of France, and producers claim they are very happy with both the quality and quantity of the crop.
Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, chef de cave at Louis Roederer, compared 2013's growing conditions to 1982 and 1988, both of which were vintage years. He is confident he will declare a vintage for some cuvées.
“I was very excited when I tasted the grapes and the juice, and I am looking forward to tasting the wines in a few months – right now I feel 2013 could be a great Cristal year,” Lecaillon said.
Dominique Demarville, cellar master at Veuve Clicquot, and Gilles Descôtes, cellar master at Bollinger, did not want to commit to declaring a vintage just yet. However, both revealed they were very happy with the quality of the grapes they had harvested.
Demarville said the harvest had the potential of the 2008, 1996 and 1995 vintages. While 2008 has not yet been released, it will be only the second vintage of Veuve in the noughties, following 2002. Both 1995 and 1996 were widely acclaimed vintage years in Champagne. However, Demarville won't make the final decision on blending a vintage cuvée until he has tasted the vins clairs at the end of the year.
The season was slow to start, with cold weather retarding the development of vines until July. Hot weather in July and August was vital, explained Damien le Sueur, production and cellar director at Taittinger.
"The hot weather allowed for the fruit to ripen steadily, and for the little hail damage the region suffered to dry up," he said. "The maturing conditions in September and October remained optimal, which is very unusual. [It] has allowed for a good alcohol percentage, combined with a great acidity and a very low pH.”
Le Sueur added that 2013 is a good Taittinger year, reminiscent of 2008 and 1996 (an outstanding year, with many houses making vintage cuvées).