The Comité Champagne has announced yields for the 2017 harvest are set at 10,800kgs/hectare, including 500kgs/ha to be released from the reserve. Despite spring frosts hitting the vineyards after warm weather triggered an early bud burst and around 20% of the crop being lost, agronomic or actual yields are predicted to be in the region of 10,000-11,000kgs per hectare.
The harvest is due to start in late August, making it one of the five earliest, according to the Comité. The growing cycle of the vine is about ten days ahead of the ten-year average.
With a larger 1,100kg/ha taken out of the reserve to supplement the 10,800kgs/hectare also set for the 2016 harvest, this means in effect more grapes will be picked in 2017 at a level of 10,300kgs/ha versus 9,700kgs/ha in 2016. While the yield level set by the Comité — made up from representatives of the growers in the Syndicat Général des Vignerons (SGV) and the houses belonging to the Unions des Maisons de Champagne (UMC) – necessarily reflects nature’s bounty it is also adjusted to meet predicted demand.
When the SGV and UMC reperesentives met to agree the yield level on 21 July, the shipment figures for the first half of 2017 indicated growth of 3.3% overall. The French domestic market continues to look quite weak with shipments there down 2.7%, but shipments elsewhere in Europe were up 0.8% while markets outside Europe grew by 17.8%, although this specific growth only represents an extra 4.9m bottles in the quieter first half of the year (the vast majority of champagne sales still take place in the last quarter of the year). At present it seems the Comité is predicting a small growth on the 306.1m bottles shipped in 2016.