Champagne Deutz Vineyards – Flowering Indicates that we’ll be Harvesting in September

27th June 2023

Champagne Deutz courtyard

After a generous 2022 harvest that delighted winegrowers and cellar masters alike, attention is now focused on the 2023 vintage. Despite a difficult start to the campaign, with heavy rainfall from March to mid-May, the return of sunshine at the end of May enabled the vineyards to show us its best side for the flowering. The 2023 harvest looks set to be just as good as 2022.

Cool, dry weather was the order of the day in winter 2022-2023. Winter is the time of year when the vine rests and this year was cooler than most. Whilst nowhere near as severe as the frosts that our elders were accustomed to, the occasional morning frost was by no means rare. So it was in cold, dry weather that the team headed by Patrick Boivin and Cédric Georget, respectively Director and Vineyard Manager of Champagne Deutz, carried out the pruning work that is instrumental in determining the quality of the future harvest.

The grinding up of the vine shots was carried out gradually in accordance with the progression of the pruning. Mechanical weeding began in the month of February. The dry end to the winter led us to believe that weed control would be relatively easy.

From mid-March to late April, the drought was replaced by humidity (19 days of rain recorded in April, compared to just 8 in an average year), with several episodes of sleet putting a little water back into the soil in March. In these conditions, weeds began to gain the upper hand.

The morning frosts and relatively low temperatures (as low as -5°C), combined with high humidity, had the vineyard team fearing the worst. There was some very localised damage from the frosts (mainly in one plot of young vines in the Côte des Blancs) although fortunately the damage was minimal and had very little impact on the coming harvest.

As a result of the relatively cool weather, the vines were about a week behind their ten-year average at the time of budburst, which occurred on 14, 20 and 24 April respectively for our Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Meuniers.

From mid-May, the return of sunshine helped to mitigate the risk of disease (particularly downy mildew), which had been present for several weeks due to the damp conditions. Work in the vineyards intensified in perfect weather conditions. Thanks to the return of seasonal (or even higher) temperatures, the vine was able to make up for the time it had lost at budburst.

The vine’s health began to improve and we gradually regained control of the weeds. “The controlled management of the vines and soils encourages natural grass cover. At Deutz, we have always worked sustainably. We changed our approach to winegrowing in the early 2000s and decided to adopt eco-friendly viticulture. We began to abandon the use of herbicides in 2010, and we stopped using them for good on all our plots over five years ago,” says Cédric Georget.

The first flowers appeared on the vine on 29 May. The excellent weather and warm temperatures continued into early June. Growth was vigorous and vine lifting work began on 2 June.

The scent of flowers wafted over the hillside plots on 5 June. The earlier ripening Deutz plots had fully flowered by 8 June and the flowering phase was swift owing to the excellent weather conditions. As is often the case, it was the Chardonnay that got the ball rolling. The Chardonnays from Bisseuil and the Côte des Blancs had flowered by 10 June followed by the Aÿ Pinot Noirs on 11 June. The Meuniers were a few days later on 15 June. The flowering dates for this vintage are in line with the 10-year average.

The flowering period took place under ideal conditions, which bodes very well for the future harvest. The ‘montre’ (the moment the clusters come out) and the excellent health of the vines point to a promising 2023 vintage.

We now need to ensure that this great potential lasts up until the harvest while avoiding any possible upsets that Mother Nature may have in store for us.

In less than 90 days, in the first fortnight of September, we will be ready with our baskets and shears to reap the fruit of another year’s hard work.

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