1. feb. 2016

Happy New Year: Sustainability

Happy 2016.

In Champagne the year remains new for a while, and as for the happiness we may as well choose to believe in it. As messy and grim as it looked in the end, the old year did not only provide us with terror in Paris but also with a global deal on climate. Partly voluntary but a deal is still a deal.

It is about time. Maybe too late, nobody knows really. The agreement is still rather fresh, and nothing is easier than to doubt its value. But it does not bring anything not to believe at all. Or to wait for everybody else to do something first. Everybody can make a difference, in certain areas Denmark has been an example of this.

Work with warming
In Champagne, researchers have worked with warming for a long time. Back in 2003 the Comité Champagne published a detailed statement of the CO2-emissions of the region as the first of its kind. In the following 10 years, the total emission of CO2 was reduced with 7%, the target is to reach 25% before 2020.

However, it is a long way from research of scientists to the winegrower and his or her daily work in the vineyard. And there are not too many easy solutions either. For instance CO2-emissions. Every year we prune thousands of vines and burn the off cuts directly in the vineyards. This sends out CO2 (7% of the total CO2-emission in Champagne in 2013). Nowadays it is possible to recycle the off cuts and turn them into fuel or even boxes, soon to be available in a version with 30% wood from the vines. So what are we waiting for?

The alternative to get rid of the branches is to crush them with a tractor. Eventually, the pieces will turn into mulch. A nice green solution apart from the fact that the tractor emits CO2 as well, as it takes quite some time to crush. We have diseases that spread in the vineyards (especially Esca attack the vines lethally and cannot be treated in any way), and one way to avoid the spread is to burn everything. Not good for your CO2-emission we confess. But it is necessary to make some choices for everybody.

Sustainability certificate
In 2016 we hope to retrieve a sustainability certification. We have been on the way for a while. New methods are implemented like plowing the soils instead of using herbicides and usage of ecological fertilizers instead of conventional. Other parameters are reduced usage of chemicals, recycling and evaluation of our work environment. We have kept records of the work done in the vineyards day by day and season by season for years already.

The latest year, 2015, was the warmest ever to be registered in France. The heat wave with almost no rain provided us with fewer but also even better grapes qualitywise than usual. In other words the best start a wine can get. Will the vintage of 2015 become a champagne like those we may expect with warmer weather then? Already the climate in Champagne is now 1,2 degrees Celsius warmer than 30 years ago. Basically, we cannot know but warm or cold: The climate has its decisive role for a champagne today as well as it did before. 2015 is not exception from this rule.

We would like to thank you for good questions, kind words and personal contact in 2015 Hopefully a great 2016 awaits you, with fine bubbles in your glass. Maybe we'll meet (again).

Solveig Tange & Alain Gérard, Soulières 31st of January 2016.

Tange-Gérard suggest non vintage champagnes of a certain age (Tradition and Noirs & Blancs) and vintage Blanc de Blancs champagnes from 2006 and 2009. We suggest two kinds of rosé champagnes - Rosé de Saignée and Rosé d'Assemblage as well as a sweeter Demisec champagne. All nice and tasty but don't take our word: We invite you to visit and try for yourselves.

Our doors are open whenever we are there. Please send a mail if you want to know more. Be sure to enjoy, Alain Gérard and Solveig Tange.