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Tasting the 2021 vins clairs

Reims, February 2022

Tasting the vins clairs (the still wines from which champagne is blended) is a key stage in the creation of our future champagnes. The wines from the most recent harvest are tasted and evaluated for each separate variety and growing area. These tastings serve to determine the wines’ potential and anticipate the upcoming blends. (You can read about the tasting of the vins clairs from 2019 and 2020).

After a historically low harvest yield — a lower volume has never been experienced since the 1950s — due to very poor climatic conditions during 2021, the tasting of the vins clairs fortunately shows wines of quality, despite a certain unevenness, with differences depending on the sector and the plot.

Isabelle Tellier, Chef de Cave of the House since 2001, gave us her initial opinion after tasting the vins clairs:

“— Generally speaking, the wines are expressive with a fine liveliness. The structure of the wines from the three successive exceptional years we had in 2018, 2019 and 2020 is not there, however.”

Differences between grape varieties

“The varieties most impacted by the climate vagaries are the Meuniers from the Vallée de la Marne and the Pinots Noirs from the Aube. They’ve suffered a lot from rain, frost, and diseases — especially mildew.

The Chardonnays had relatively good yields. I find that the Chardonnays show delicacy and elegance and express gourmandise — they’re quite expressive.

For the Meuniers, even though the yields were lower, the vins clairs are quality wines, fairly delicate, with a nice balance between fruit and roundness.

The Pinots Noirs, for which the Aube contributed less quantity than usual, are rather unbalanced, and a bit disappointing. The Pinots Noirs from the Montagne de Reims are good, with structure and length.”

Blending season

“— Fortunately we have the reserve wines from that fine stretch of three years in ’18-’19-’20. And, in light of the exceptional situation, we’ll be able to use more of them since our trade association has decided to release more wine than usual.

Now that the tasting is off to a good start, blending will soon begin. And I’ve already selected some interesting wines with very fine qualities to use in our Tsarine and Chanoine cuvées.

By way of wishes for the new year, mine is that we have really fine harvests in Champagne this year and that Mother Nature will be generous with us!

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