After what has been a really difficult year weather-wise the Champagne harvest has just got started with many people saying that, although the quantity will be smallish, the quality could be superb.
Didier Gimonet of Pierre Gimonnet & Fils told me this year reminds him of 1996 and 2008 what great years those were. The sugar level is high and there's plenty of acidity to give a perfect balance.
Over the course of the next days and weeks we'll be bringing you comments, posts and videos about what's going on. It will almost be like being here yourself so come back soon and take a look at what's new
The harvest is over for this year; the juice ( or must as it is called ) has fermented into still wine and many people have also competed the malo-lactic fermentation.
So things are quieter in Champagne now while the wines rest in barrels or tanks until the time comes to taste and blend them in the new year.
It's a good time to take a look back at the harvest with the help of a few pictures I haven't yet posted and below those, a couple of new videos direct from the vineyards and the press room to show you exactly what it's like here in Champagne during harvest time.
Today was just a perfect day in Champagne.
Not a cloud in the sky, warm sunshine despite a bit of an Autumn chill in the air first thing this morning and wonderful scenery.
I felt lucky to be here so I walked into the vineyards to see what I could find.
I came across some fascinating characters of which there are many in Champagne if you can just get chatting to them. Take a look at the guy in the picture, for example.
I took a short video to show you exactly what it's like to do the harvest and to show you some people having a lot of fun getting the grapes in.
I only shot the film this morning so haven't spent too much time editing it, so it's a bit 'rough' around the edges.
There are many more videos coming up so do come back to visit soon
The 2012 Champagne harvest started last week down in the Aube region, but this week work has started around Reims and Epernay. The sun has been shining too, but as I write this in the evening of September 21st the rain has come back and it's getting quite chilly. Autumn is well on it's way.
The rain will be welcome news to the vignerons, mind you, because it will plump up the grapes which are quite small this year.
Strange how vignerons never seem to be entirely satisfied, whatever the weather. After huge amounts of rain in Spring and early summer which threatened to ruin the crop, they were praying for the sun to come back.
Their prayers seemed to have worked, because a few weeks warm and sunny weather in August saved the day and despite the yield this year being well down on a normal year, many people are saying that the quality of the 2012 harvest is outstanding.
Yesterday I visited Jean Milan in Oger, Bertrand Devavry in Champillon and Huré Frères in Ludes, so as to get a good cross section of opinion across the different regions. Below is a short video to show you what they said.
Today I visted Pierre Gimonnet in Cuis and I have many more interviews and videos to share with you in the coming days.
Meanwhile Stay Bubbly, send me your comments and come back to visit soon
You may well wonder what a copper bath has to do with the harvest, or with champagne at all for that matter, so let me explain.
The other day I went to see David Pehu at Champagne Pehu Simonet. David is a real character, always has lots of projects on the go and what he has to say is always worth listening to.
He also happens to make superb champagne and you don't need simply to take my word for it. His importer in the USA is Michael Skurnik Wines whose range of champagnes is personally selected by Terry Thiese, one of the leading authorities on grower champagnes in the States, if not the world. He only goes for the best.
Anyway, back to the copper bath and the harvest...
If you want to get the latest news about the 2012 harvest in Champagne as it unfolds then My Man In Champagne is the place for you.
Depending on who you talk to and what the weather does in the coming few days there may be two or three weeks to go until the harvest starts.
Three weeks ago, 20th September was the date being suggested as the start date, but after a week of fine, warm weather, what I'm hearing now is that 17th is looking the most likely date.
What a change from last year when, in many villages, it was all over by the end of August.
Mind you, 17th September is looking a bit optimistic in some places. I took this picture on 29th August in Ludes in La Montagne de Reims and as you can see, the Veraison (that's the changing of colour for the black grapes) still had a long way to go.
I'll be out and about next week and in particular I'm meeting David Pehu of Champagne Pehu Simonet, a super producer in the village of Verzenay. So it will be interesting to hear what he has to say.
Do come back regularly to see the images, read the reports and watch the vidoes from right here in the vineyards.
You never hear of farmer who is happy with the weather, but this year I can't help feeling that their moans have been justified. There's just been so much rain.
Fruit like cherries on the trees in our garden have simply burst open because they can't absorb all the water that has fallen and of course, that leads very easily to rot and mildew. That's exactly what's been happening in the vineyards.