An atypical vintage - Champagne Philipponnat

An atypical vintage

2023 clear wines: interview with Charles Philipponnat

You’ve just finished tasting the clear wines from the 2023 harvest. How did this important step go? Are the tastings in line with your first impressions, predicted during the harvest?

Although promising, the tasting of the clear wines confirms our September impressions: 2023 is an uneven vintage. Thanks to the generous yield of the harvest, we were able to be uncompromising in sorting the bunches, avoiding those affected by botrytis and acetic spoilage. Although they were in the minority, they did exist, and we had to isolate them so as not to include them in our blends. And while the abundance of grapes may have led to some dilution of the naturally present sugars and acidity, the older, less productive vineyards, the Premiers Crus and Grands Crus, were less affected by this.


How do you picture the blends from the 2023 harvest?

We’re reassured! The quality batches are a little light but physiologically ripe. The slightly low alcoholic strength and acidity levels identified at harvest are the result of dilution caused by the exceptional size of the bunches, not a lack of ripeness. The clear wines are fruit-driven and elegant, ideal for light white wines. The relative lack of acidity in this harvest will be offset by the absence of malolactic fermentation whenever possible and appropriate. Overall, by being discerning and rigorous, we’ll be able to produce cuvées of a higher standard than the most delicate vintages of the last fifteen years!


Now that you’ve tasted the clear wines, can you tell us what vintages to expect?

Chardonnay is the preferred grape variety of 2023. It suffered fewer fungal attacks and has better acid tension. This will be a vintage year for our Blanc de Blancs cuvée. For Pinot Noir, the grapes from our suppliers in the historic heart of Champagne will enable us to release our Blanc de Noirs and Grand Cru Cuvée 1522 as vintages. Finally, like every year, we selected only the finest grapes to be included in Clos des Goisses 2023, which will be excellent.


Did a special favourite emerge from these tastings?

As is often the case, Clos des Goisses stands out from the crowd. And yet again this year, the clear wines from our historic Léon parcel in Ay are very promising, to the extent that we’re thinking of crafting a new vintage of our eponymous single-plot cuvée, the third since it was created in 2006.


Does this tasting of clear wines from 2023 remind you of a similar harvest?

The exceptional size of the grapes – unparalleled in the history of Champagne – makes 2023 an unprecedented and unusual vintage. The best aspects, however, are comparable to other vintages that were both abundant and low in acidity: 1964, 1982 and 2004.