The good news: Fair weather in late August and prior to harvest was the Hail Mary pass that gave this vintage a fighting chance.
The bad news: Yields for the year are down as much as 40 percent for some Champagne producers.
Picking started: Sept. 10
Promising grapes: Pinot Noir
Analysis: For the Champenois, 2012 reads like the trials of Job, with frost, hail and disease plaguing the region’s vines. “In July we were so gloomy," said Richard Geoffroy, chef de cave of Dom Pérignon. "Then the whole thing went, ‘Wow!’ We came from nowhere. [But] at the end of July I wouldn’t have bet a cent on [this vintage].”
The weather turned around in mid-August—warm sun allowed grapes to ripen, then cooler weather during harvest helped to preserve the health of the grapes. Ultimately, the frost and hail that reduced the crop earlier in the year meant the harvested grapes often showed better concentration. Although most producers report at least 20 percent lower yields—and often it’s 30 to 40 percent—the grapes that were harvested were generally healthy, with good levels of acidity balanced by ripe sugar content and flavors.
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