14. okt. 2016

Champagne 2016: Challenged by rain

In Champagne, 2016 has been marked by rain. Not least the grape harvest in late September. So what to expect from the grapes of such a year as we'll meet their tickling bubbles against our palates? We dropped the last grape in our black buckets only a few weeks ago but the final result remains difficult to predict. But as the season has been unusual ever since April, it is hard to imagine that the final bottled champagne should not be something special as well.

Now, it is not exactly hot news that growing grapes in Champagne can be a tricky affair. It has been so for centuries. Still, in 2016 it did seem more miraculous than ever to watch the balance between success and failure tilt to the positive side. In Soulières, residents must be closer to 100 years than 50 to have experienced a season with such a narrow margin. Mainly due to rain: Seemingly endless rain throughout spring gave us problems all summer. Then a few millimetres of rain shortly before the harvest made the grapes put on weight badly needed.

This allowed us to land 35 tonnes of pretty and healthy Chardonnays and Pinots. We began in the morning of September 21st and finished just before lunch seven days later. With a lot less grapes than usual but enough for the 8.000 bottles of Tange-Gérard champagne, we sell every year, and on top of that grapes for our coop. By now, most of it will have finished its first fermentation. Once stability is reached, next year, this very young wine will go through a second alcoholic fermentation in bottles to be blessed with bubbles by sugar and yeast.


Complicated season
In the vineyards this year, frost followed right after the first leaves were out. Maybe that's what disturbed the growth for the rest of the season. Or maybe the long draught of 2015 disturbed the production of grapes this year. Anyway, the big variation between the development of the plants was one factor that made 2016 such a challenge all the way.

Throughout the spring, the constantly pouring-down rain delayed the development of the vines further, it disturbed the flowering and made the fight against mildew rather constant throughout the spring to the end of July. Only in August the weather finally changed with temperatures far beyond 30 degrees Celsius. The heat saved a good deal of our grapes from the disease, but they were still small and few that we hired one third less people than usual to pick them. Five millimetres of rain few days before the start added substantially to the weight of the grapes - miraculously - now we wait to know more about their taste.


The must and the wine
We have tasted the must directly from the press. Especially Pinot Meunier is rich as our black grapes got very mature. Their future is mainly red as the colourful element of our otherwise Chardonnay-based rosé champagne. The Chardonnays were picked last, which helped to supply them with more sugar and less acidity in a fine balance between these decisive poles. It is still to early to say in which way the rain of 2016 will finally express itself in the wine. But stay tuned. The continuation will follow in a bottle hopefully near you in some years.


Current champagnes
Until then we suggest non vintage of some age (Tradition and Noirs & Blancs), vintage Blanc de Blancs (2006 and 2010), two rosé types (Chardonnay-based Rosé d'Assemblage and Pinot Noir-based Rosé de Saignée) and finally a sweeter Demisec. In 2017, we expect to present the first bottle in a coming-up series of new Tange-Gerard champagnes for you.

Harvestgreetings from Alain Gérard og Solveig Tange, Soulières, october 2016

Be sure to enjoy
:-)

21. sep. 2016

Grapeharvest 2016 is on

The grapeharvest is finally on at Champagne Tange-Gerard since the 21st of September. We expect it to last for approximately one week.

We began the picking in the Pinots of Loisy-en-Brie, and plan to pick the Chardonnays in the end. The quality of the grape so far seems fine. It was a nice surprise to experience that also quantity-wise we seemed to put more kilos in the basket than expected. The bit of rain we received lately may have contributed to let the grapes grow a bit.

Even the yields may not be quite as low as we have estimated, we will only know the final result in probably six days. And we don't expect to see usual quantities. The growth of the vines has been unusually troubled this year with frost in April followed by lots of rain and disease. This very unusual year will stay in our memories for a while despite the enourmous relief to be able to note that what we see and touch is good. As simple as that.

Thus with a smaller team than usual, we look forward to examine more closely what we will land in our buckets. Those grapes are the end of the growth of 2016, and they are also the beginning of the champagne 2016 of which we expect something different. Just like the year itself.

But that will be for later. At the moment we suggest non vintage champagnes of some age (Tradition and Noirs & Blancs) and vintage Blanc de Blancs champagnes from 2006 and 2010. We suggest two rosé champagnes (Rosé de Saignée and Rosé d'Assemblage) as well as a sweeter Demisec champagne.

Everything is nice and tasty but don't take our word for it: Our doors are open whenever we are present so why don't you pay us a visit and try for yourselves? Please send a mail if you want to know more. Be sure to enjoy, Alain Gérard and Solveig Tange.



16. sep. 2016

Getting there: Grapeharvest 2016

Enjoy: Time is almost up in Champagne, and you may expect something good. At Champagne Tange-Gerard we will pick the first grapes of 2016 on September 21st.

At the moment, the grapes are reaching the maturity needed: Sugars go up and acidity the other way, though not too fast. On top of that the grapes are extraordinarily healthy due to the abundance of sun since late August.

Though our yields will not be the same quantities as usualsince their growth has been unusually troubled this year with frost in April followed by lots of rain and disease. This very unusual year will stay in our memories for a while despite the enourmous relief to be able to note that what we see and touch is good. As simple as that.

Thus with a smaller team than usual, we look forward to examine more closely what we will land in our buckets.

Such will be the end of the growth of 2016, and the beginning of the champagne 2016 of which we expect something different. Just like the year itself.

But that will be for later. At the moment we suggest non vintage champagnes of some age (Tradition and Noirs & Blancs) and vintage Blanc de Blancs champagnes from 2006 and 2010. We suggest two rosé champagnes (Rosé de Saignée and Rosé d'Assemblage) as well as a sweeter Demisec champagne.

Everything is nice and tasty but don't take our word for it: Our doors are open whenever we are present so why don't you pay us a visit and try for yourselves? Please send a mail if you want to know more. Be sure to enjoy, Alain Gérard and Solveig Tange.








22. jul. 2016

Sustainability

In July 2016 Champagne Tange-Gerard obtained the status of sustainable winegrower.

This has implications for the way we work in the company.

In the vineyards, sustainability covers these areas:

You and the vineyards: Thumbs up for this attitude


Many good people has come to work with us. They ask smart questions that make us all learn more. Please click this FAQ to know more as well.



Sustainability sitemap: Overview of all sustainability pages

Home


21. jul. 2016

Sustainability: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)



Q: You are sustainable, but why are you not fully organic?
A: We'd like to. Basically it is because one task that makes it currently impossible to be 100% organic, which is our sprays of fungicides. We are not equipped to do it ourselves and the company that works for us does not have an organic option. Once they do, we will probably go for it.


Return Sustainability main page





Sustainability: How to work in the growth period


A healthy vine is a very vigorous plant.

However, if it grows too many stems with too many leaves, it may damage the quality of the grapes.

Therefore we aim at controlling the vine and keep its growth at a strict minimum.

The removal of buds (ébourgeonnage)
Only buds that grow on branches from last year will grow grapes. These one year old branches are the young wood left at the pruning.

However buds may grow all over the plant: At the foot and on older branches and they will either not provide fruit or only very few and very small grapes. But they will grow into stems as big as the fertile ones. Thus the plant spends energy for nothing, which is why we remove these buds manually.

The buds are very pink just before they burst, thus they are easy to spot.

They are very soft and easy to remove with your hands.

Around this time we unhook the middle wire of the trellis to put it on the ground. This allows the buds to grow freely. In some vineyards we have a double wire at the foot of the plant to manage low stems, this wire is unhooked and put on the ground as well.


Return Sustainability main page or How to work the vines



The removal of stems (épamprage)
The Chardonnays come into leaf a few days before the Pinots. Still we may only arrive in some vineyards after some days of growth.

Thus some buds may have time to develop into small stems, before we come to remove them.

However, the proces is the same as for the buds, and the young stems are still very soft and easy to pull off.

Buds continue to develop and we continue to remove whatever grows on old wood.

It is still very easy to separate old wood from one-year-old wood. Once the stems are longes and the leaves bigger, it will take more time to check.


Return Sustainability main page or How to work the vines




1st lift of wires (relevage)
The trellis carries three wires in different heights.

The middle wire is also double, and it is used to control the stems.

As the young stems reach a sufficient length, this middle wire will be lifted and placed in the lower hook on each of the posts.

The operation will lift up a number of stems to place them between the double wire with their tip pointing upwards.

However many stems will not have grown sufficiently to stay between the wires, and they will be put back manually later.

At you move up the row of vines, you will place one wooden agraffe before each post. This helps to keep the double wires together and a miximum of stems to remain in between.

You may still find new buds growing on old wood. Please remove them, they will develop into stems with no grapes and eventually the amount of leaves will be too overvældende for the plant to feed. On top of that, a too dense hedge may allow fungus to install themselves which is one of the major causes of disease.

Why not as you are passing though have a look at your feet to meet the weeds?


Return Sustainability main page or How to work the vines



2nd lift of wires (relevage)
The growth of the plants at this time is very vigorous. Sometimes the stems have grown visibly longer from day to day.

A few weeks later, the double wire will be lifted to the second hook or similar heigth if the hook is missing.

Stems that were not caught by the wires at the first lifting, may have grown long enough now, and they will be put in place manually by gently manipulating the stem under the wire.

It is a delicate job, since they are still soft and break easily, especially after rain.

At this moment, you place a second agraffe in the middle between two posts. It is important that you separate the two plants correctly.

This agraffe looks like white plastic but in fact, it is made of bio starch that will disintegrate completely in less than a year.

New buds still develop, and when you see their pink colour pointing out at old wood, you continue to remove them.

All through the growth season, we aim at keeping the size of the plant at a strict minimum. The same goes for the weeds at your feet.


Return Sustainability main page or How to work the vines



Trellissing the vines (palissage)
Once the second lifting is through we usually move straight on with the trellissing. When this is finalized, the vineyards will look like rows of green hedges, in order, rather than the anarchy vines tend to create naturally.

At this time we want all the stems to be in place between the double wire.

Usually the important stems - those with the future grapes, that are visible by now - will be long enough to remain between the wires once they have been put back.

As we collect the stems, we are careful to place them at the wire so they point upwards and never sidewards. This is done to avoid that several stems cross each other, which may create a wall of leaves that will be too dense, making it harder for the wind to dry out humidity : Always a possible carrier of mycotic spores that spread fungus diseases.

Once the stems are in place, we spend time to separate them nicely along the double wire.

Two more biostarch agraffes are put, adding the total up to four. Now each plant is nicely seperated from its neighbour. When the stems are placed correctly, it will allow the grapes to catch a maximum of sun and keep the density of the leaves at a minimum.

We work the soils with the plough to remove weeds.

However, sometimes we may need a hand the old-fashioned manual way with these weeds.

Several passsages may be necessary to finish the trellissing nicely. Usually, it is a job of six weeks to deal with three hectares of vines.


Return Sustainability main page or How to work the vines



So we have done other things as we waited for better times, better days.

Trimming (cisaillage)
The vines will have their tops cut once per week during the summer. This is done with scissors installed at the tractor.

Once the tops of the stems have been cut, they will grow from the sides.

However the machine can not reach the lower part of the hedge, so we manage this task manually with the big scissors used to remove bigger branches.

This work will keep the amount of sterile stems as well as the density of the leaves at a minimum.

Need we remind you? We still look out for these weeds.



Return Sustainability main page or How to work the vines

Sustainability: Sitemap


Your attitude...........Thumbs up for this attitude

Chapter 1..........How to work in the vines
Chapter 2..........How to handle waste
Chapter 3..........How to protect sustainably
Chapter 4..........How to nourish the soils
Chapter 5..........How to maintain the soils
Chapter 6..........How to apply protection
Chapter 7..........How to organize the vineyard
Chapter 8..........How to operate globally


Frequently Asked Questions : FAQ


Sustainability main page