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Champagne: The First Grapes are in the Vineyards

Isabelle Tellier in the Chardonnay vineyards in Épernayy

Reims, 15 June 2020

After flowering comes the stage called nouaison. Fertilization has taken place, and the flowers fade and drop off. The fertilized ovule transforms itself and gives birth to a fruit – the vine berry or grape. The term nouaison, or fruit set, means that the berry has fully appeared - it is said to be noué. At this stage the berries are green, firm, and quite small.

Isabelle Tellier, Chef de Cave of the House of Chanoine Frères, says: “This year, fertilization went well, encouraged by good weather, dry and sunny, in Champagne. The fruit load on the vines is fairly good, with some heterogeneity from one variety to another. The Chardonnay seems to have better loads, with more bunches per branch.”

After palissage, work in the vineyards continues with “pinching back.” The upper part of the vines is pruned; regrowth is cut back to encourage fructification and allow the bunches maximum exposure to sunshine, necessary for fruit maturation. This operation will be repeated several times during the summer, whenever necessary, between now and the harvest. The purpose of pinching back remains the same – to remove part of the vegetation to focus growth on the bunches of grapes and encourage fruit development.

Isabelle Tellier says “with summer beginning, the vegetative cycle is in advance by around two weeks this year. Véraison, the start of maturation of the grapes and the stage where they change color, could take place in mid-July.

First grains of Chardonnay - June 2020

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