In France Champagne harvest weather-hit but 'promising'

Bad weather caused a severe decrease in this year's grape harvest in the Champagne region, but growers predicted Friday that quality would trump quantity in this year's bubbly.

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Champagne harvesters had to be highly selective this year because late-season rains prompted a fungus outbreak, growers said play

Champagne harvesters had to be highly selective this year because late-season rains prompted a fungus outbreak, growers said

(AFP/File)
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Bad weather caused a severe decrease in this year's grape harvest in the Champagne region, but growers predicted Friday that quality would trump quantity in this year's bubbly.

The area in northern France suffered punishing rain and hail that damaged the grapes in mid-August just before the harvest, the industry's Champagne Committee said.

The pickers have had to be highly selective because the late rain caused a fungus known as botrytis bunch rot to affect the mature grapes, it said.

Some Champagne vineyards began harvesting their grapes on August 26, among the earliest harvests since 1950.

A spring freeze had already wiped out 23 percent of buds in the region, the committee said.

But warm and sunny weather between May and July was extremely beneficial to the vines, giving them a "remarkable state of health" before the damage wrought by the storms and hail, it said.

The resulting grapes are of high quality with a "very promising" balance and good acidity.

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