Charles Philipponnat, the manager of Maison Philipponnat, gave us an exclusive interview at the very beginning of his Champagne harvest. It was an opportunity to ask for his first thoughts, but also to take a look at some of the forthcoming vintages and developments within the range.
“It is still a little early for a complete diagnosis,” said Mr. Philipponnat, head of the eponymous champagne house based in Aÿ.
“We started on Tuesday [September 10 – editor’s note], for the moment only at Clos des Goisses.
“This vintage is of a very good quality, once the grapes have been roasted by heat stroke,” he explained.
“The alcohol potential is 11.5% vol, we have a very nice sugar/acid balance and about six to seven grams of total acidity. For the aromatic balance, it is still a little early to say, but what is certain is that we are moving towards a rather high phenological and aromatic maturity. Some winegrowers will have harvested too early. It’s a pity.”
If he has high hopes on the qualitative side, the quantity of the harvest leaves a slightly bitter taste, especially when considering that the quality is present: “We have lost a lot of the harvest [due to cold, frost, hail and heat], the yields are very low [it has been set at 10,200 kg/ha but many will not achieve that – editor’s note] and we will harvest much less than expected,” estimated Mr. Philipponnat, half-defeatist and half-realistic.
“We are between 4,000 kg/ha and 8,000 kg/ha, and that is already good.” This corresponds to about 25/30 hl/ha.
As for the grape variety, “Whites are affected by powdery mildew and care must be taken when picking. Especially since it has developed in places where it is not usually present. There was cold and humidity during the flower and [the powdery mildew] likes it. On Pinot Noir, it is very qualitative, comparable to 2008. In the Côte des Bar there was more water during the summer and more humidity, so we will have to be careful with botrytis on the Pinot Meuniers. In the Aube, Les Riceys is very beautiful. Ideal conditions for the beautiful terroirs of the Marne,” he added.
Mr. Philipponnat is enthusiastic, with something to cheer him up just before the release of his new vintages and to start the end-of-year holiday marathon, so important for Champagne sales.
As for the programme: Clos des Goisses will be sold with the 2010 vintage for the white version and 2008 for the rosé. Les Cintres, one of the three parcel vintages, will display the 2009 vintage. It should be noted that the parcel cuvée Mareuil-sur-Ay will be renamed La Remissonne, and is already being marketed with the 2009 vintage. “In 2000 there were three parcels, and in 2009, only one parcel is in the extension of the Clos des Goisses to the west,” explained Charles.
Finally, the Royales Reserves will proudly carry the 2012 vintage and the Cuvée 1522 Rosé will go from 2007 to 2009.