Tasting the Vins Clairs from 2022
Reims, February 2023
After a 2021 harvest that was complicated by climatic conditions, the 2022 harvest in Champagne has turned out very well in terms of both quantity and quality. The average overall yield was 14,900 kg per hectare.
Expressive vins clairs in 2022
This year’s harvest came early — just after mid-August in the earliest-ripening sectors in Champagne. The musts show an average alcohol potential of 10.4°, higher by 0.2° than the decade average thanks to the sunny weather during the year. The acidity and pH reflect a year with low acidity, but in proportions that will have no negative effect on the quality of the wines. Overall, it was a sunny year, very similar in its characteristics (alcohol potential, acidity, and pH) to the promising 2018 harvest.
After tasting the vins clairs, Isabelle Tellier, Chef de Cave of the House of Chanoine Frères 1730, who develops all the Tsarine and Chanoine champagnes, gave her early opinion: “The vins clairs showed very well overall in the tastings; they’re already quite expressive, which means that the grapes had reached a fine level of maturity at the time of harvest.”
You may recall that the vins clairs tasting is an important stage during which these still — that is, not yet sparkling — wines from the most recent harvest are tasted and examined attentively. Each vin clair, variety by variety and cru by cru, is sniffed, examined, tasted, and evaluated.
Isabelle Tellier, the House’s Chef de Cave since 2001, conducts the tasting — an exercise in concentration and anticipation — with passion and exactitude. It is a determining phase in the later blending of each of the future Tsarine and Chanoine Frères Réserve Privée cuvées.
The tasting by grape variety
Isabelle Tellier gave her opinion of the vins clairs from each of the three Champagne grape varieties, which she has tasted and evaluated over several tasting sessions beginning this past December:
“The Chardonnays vary a good deal from one cru to another. The tension we usually associate with the variety is not very apparent. The wines are fairly open, with notes of exotic fruits. I had some nice surprises, with wines that are delicate, with citrus notes and good minerality.
The Pinots Noirs are fairly aromatic and delicate. They’ve developed favorably between the tasting in December and the one in late January.
The Meuniers have a high qualitative level. This year they show a lovely freshness and excellent delicacy.”
Blending the Tsarine and Chanoine champagnes
Isabelle Tellier went on: “I find that the blends are easy to make this year — the choices are fairly obvious. Tasting during blending has been very enjoyable, fruity and pleasing to the palate. The perfect health of the grapes contributed to that. As a whole the level of the wines is very good for blending some fine Tsarine and Chanoine cuvées, and as during previous years, the reserve wines from that remarkable three-year stretch — 2018, 2019 and 2020 — will play a role.
For this current year 2023, once again let’s hope that the upcoming harvests will be good both in quantity and quality. We always need Mother Nature’s generosity in Champagne.”