The harvesting began at the start of September. This is a result of global warming, as the changing climate has caused the vegetation to start early.
Because "nothing is better than the pruning of March”, as Didier and Olivier Gimonnet’s grandfather told them, they always try to prune as late as possible and until April 5th. This year again it was time, because at this date, the buds were disbursed. This is why French vineyards have been particularly sensitive to spring frosts.
It only takes a few hours with negative temperatures to "grill" buds. The last fortnight of April was particularly critical. And the temperatures of the morning of April 20th, raised between -1 ° C and -5 ° C, did not spare them.
About 10 hectares affected partially or totally by frost... About 20% of buds destroyed. That means 20% of the potential production of the Domaine.
The pessimists would say "50,000 bottles destroyed in 2 hours". But the Gimonnet brothers prefer to consider themselves lucky, as other winegrowers have been more affected. Nature does not spare us, but it can also be generous.
At the end of July, the vineyard was very healthy and in advance, consequence of a particularly early and warm summer. Their harvest estimates confirmed a rather low year in volume compared to the past decade, but ultimately almost normal. The estimated average agronomic yield was 9,500 kg / ha.
The month of August was going to disrupt their forecast somewhat. An almost autumnal month - cool temperatures and especially a humid atmosphere (95mm of water ...). The fear of this famous botrytis, called "grey rot" in Champagne was threatening.
As soon as they returned towards the 20th of August, they noticed that their Chardonnay had begun their maturity cycle but that they had a few small rotting pots (3% in frequency on our first maturity samples ...)
Finally, they decided to wait until the 4th of September to start the harvest (the official date was the 1st for Côte des Blancs), thinking that the botrytis was not alarming in the vines, because the chalky soil is very draining, and the “palissage” (trellising neat ) was well done… But above all they wanted to get a real phenolic maturity.
At Gimonnet they prefer the "long cycles" ... more than 90 days between blooming and harvest. They are guarantees of balance and minerality. The plant must have time to go and get the oligo- elements in the soil.
The evolution of the climate and of the ripening maturity ... pushed us to harvest all our vines in only 8 days. “The quickest harvest of my life!” – Didier Gimonnet.
And yet, they still managed to harvest a "normal volume" (about 10,000 kg / ha), "small compared to the usual generosity of the Côte des Blancs", but nevetheless…. The quality is there and without any doubt, Chardonnay from Côte des Blancs are the success of Champagne in 2017.
So, what should you be buying?
The Gimonnet brothers have provided us with their recommendations:
- the "Cuis 1er cru" brut NV, “an archetype of our style”.
- the “Fleuron” 1er cru blanc de blancs representing "the vintage spirit of the Domaine" : 2010 is a really great value (“I consider this vintage so Gimonnet” - Didier Gimonnet) and 2008 is a reference.
- The "Special Club" cuvees "Grands Terroirs de Chardonnay" 2010 then 2012, as the premium cuvee.
These are BLEND Champagnes (“ASSEMBLAGE”), adding the qualities of several vintages or several terroirs, namely:
- five different vintages, and more than sixty wines the NV.
- Five terroirs (villages) representing some fifteen parcels for the "Fleuron".
- The best parcels of the Domaine, Grand Cru and 1er cru for the "Special Club".
The complexity and harmony of these wines are the result of the Champagne tradition that is part of Gimonnet’s philosophy and knowledge: the art of blending.
Also, because their grands crus were so impressive in 2012, the brothers decided to create unique vintages, "mono-terroir grand cru", to enrich the range of cuvees "Special Club".
These are the novelties of this end of the year:
a pure CRAMANT, a pure CHOUILLY.
The pure OGER, which was on sale for 18 months, is already exhausted.
These unique expressions of a terroir are of course limited in volume, because "the best must be shared” and the brothers do not wish to diminish the quality of the traditional assemblages.
Finally, let us mention that of all the vintages currently on sale are the 2006 (10 years on lees ...), 2008 "one reference", 2010 "very Gimonnet, with tension" and 2012 "very rich and promising". This confirms the Gimonnets’ desire to elaborate vintages cuvees only when it is perfect, (explaining why they did not produce any in 2007 or 2011).