Champagne harvest 2015 – a morning in the vines with David Léclapart

David working with his pickers

David working with his pickers

On Monday morning I spent a few hours with David Léclapart in his Cote des Prés vineyard. He was one of the 3 débardeurs for his pickers, emptying buckets of grapes and bringing the full cases to the end of the row for pick up. He really enjoyed being out in the vineyard and participating in the picking: “This is the best time of the year, it is now that we see the results of all our work. I feel it is important to be out in the vineyard now, to lead by example and cheer everybody on, or make sure no grapes are forgotten”, he says.

David has a team of 16 harvesters, most of them – bar a few locals – are fed, watered and housed by him and his mother who is in charge in the kitchen. Most people come year after year but there always are a few new people, this year a sommelier from Barcelona, another one from Holland and a third one from Germany. The atmosphere is warm and a lot of banter and laughs can be heard in between the vines.

Juice from La Cote des Prés straight out of the press

Juice from La Cote des Prés straight out of the press

All in all David is very happy about the quality of the harvest, even if he is not really sure what his exact quantity will be. “I have some vines with lots of grapes, yet other vines are less loaded; we will see what the average quantity will be at the end of harvest”, says David. He adds: “But whatever the quantity, my grapes are beautiful and healthy which is the most important!”/em>
David started harvest on the 13 September and should be finished by the 21st. He was not really worried about the rain which has been forecasted as he feels it will not impact on the quality. ” Biodynamic grapes have thicker skins so are generally more protected”, says David.

David does not have a press instead; he presses at a childhood friend Fabrice Bertemes. Fabrice has a square traditional Coquard press.When I visted the press after lunch David’s grapes were being pressed so I got to taste the juice, wxhich was very ripe, with great flavors and good acid profile. La Cote des Prés is on of the parcels used to make l’Artiste.

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at http://www.tastingswithatwist.wordpress.com as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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