Discovering the 2020 vintage
The still wine period offers an opportunity each year to look back at the previous growing season. 2020 will be a very great vintage, a sunny vintage.
The 2020 harvest resembled the year itself: it was singular. It came early, due to exceptional weather and vine health; for Philipponnat it started on 24 August, three weeks earlier than usual, and ended on 9 September. Between these dates we twice had to interrupt the harvest, a rare occurrence, to allow the grapes to ripen consistently.
For the third year running (2018, 2019 and 2020), the summer was marked by constant sunshine and an exceptionally severe, even extreme, drought. The picking schedule had to be adapted to the maturity of the different grape varieties and terroirs. Another peculiarity of 2020 was that the Pinot Noirs were far more advanced than the Chardonnays, which produced greater yields and ripened more slowly. In the Clos des Goisses, certain plots of Pinot Noir suffered from the drought, and for the first time were picked at the very end of the harvest.
A year like this, with such abundant sunshine, demanded that we anticipate the freshness of our future cuvées. We always vinify with great caution, avoiding any premature oxidation. With this vintage, we did not undertake malolactic fermentation for the wines vinified in wooden barrels, nor for any of our premier and grands crus, in order to preserve a sensation of freshness on tasting and lighter, more fruit-driven aromas.
Each year, clear wine tasting is an abiding ritual that enables us to ensure the quality of the harvest and to determine the aromatic potential of the wines from each terroir and each grape variety; it is also an essential stage in devising the blends of our future Champagnes according to the structure of the wines, their intensity, their acidity, and their ageing capacity. The challenge lies in being able to detect the potential of each wine and predict how they will develop over the next four to ten years, or more.
The challenge lies in being able to detect the potential of each wine and predict how they will develop over the next four to ten years, or more.
2020 HARVEST – TASTING NOTES
It is always exciting to see the aromas of each wine emerge already at this stage of crafting: notes of apricot and a hint of vanilla for the Pinot Noirs from Venteuil; subtlety and notes of white pepper and violet for those from Mailly; great intensity and white fruit for those from Ambonnay; fresh fruit, great intensity and notes of citrus and blood orange for those from Mareuil-sur-Ay, and as is often the case, pure minerality, flint and a hint of spice for the Pinot Noirs from Ay. The Chardonnays also have a lot to offer, with notes of white flowers (elderflower and sometimes headier jasmine), and a touch of citrus and lemon peel; the attack is strong and lively, with a fusion of saline, mentholated and citrus (lemon) notes. Their perfect balance reveals the purity and minerality of the premier grand cru chalk terroirs.