Champagne harvest 2015 – the end of harvest at Champagne de Sousa and Champagne Moussé

Eric de Sousa filling up barrels

Eric de Sousa filling up barrels

On Thursday I visited Champagne de Sousa, getting ready for the end of harvest. I had wanted to visit a few times before but somehow always something came up preventing me. Charlotte told me they started harvest on the 8th of September and they are expected to finish today. The de Sousa family have 10 hectares of own vineyards which they farm biodynamically and they also buy grapes of a further 2.5 hectares. All grapes are pressed in the 2 press centers in Avize. 70% of their grapes are Chardonnay, 20 % Pibnot Noir and 10 Meunier.
Charlotte is very happy with the quality of the harvest:” All the marcs have been between 10.6 and 11.5% potential alcohol. We harvested most of the grapes before the rain, but the rain did not really have an impact as we had a lot of wind as well. We have seen very little disease, barely any oidium, and no grey rot since the rains either. We have sped up the tempo since the rain, but up till now everything is really looking very beautiful; I don’t believe things will change in the next few days”

Wooden egg at Champagne de Sousa

Wooden egg at Champagne de Sousa

De Sousa have 2 4000 kg presses, one Coquard à met incliné and one pneumatic press. Charlotte feels the Coquard presses more precise and gives clearer juice.

Just before harvest, the de Sousa’s received a wooden egg, made by Taransaud. The egg is semi flat at the bottom and top, and is held together by metal wire in between the wood. It is a first in the region and will be used for this years vinification of the cuvee 3A. Eric explains: “The currents in the egg will cause natural movement of the wine, just as in the cement Nomblot eggs; however, we will have the added benefit of micro oxygenation associated to vinifying in barrel. We are very excited to see the results in a few months time.”

The rest of the must is either fermented in enamel or stainless steel tanks or more often in barrel. “I really like to vinify in wood, I believe it adds more complexity to the wines”, explains Eric. The barrels are generally several wines old as the idea is not to oak the wine, rather to add complexity through micro oxygenation and lees steering.

The wines will remain on their lees till early spring.

groups photo at Champagne Moussé

groups photo at Champagne Moussé

Later in the afternoon we stopped off at Cédric Moussé just as his harvesters pulled in hooting and cheering to celebrate the end of harvest. Céderic is very happy with this harvest, both in terms of quality and quantity. ” I had a few parcels of old Meunier with really low yields but overall I was surprised by the abundance of grapes”, says Cédric. He adds: “This is amazing especially as it is the second year we have worked completely without using chemical products and the year has been very dry.”

He believes that working of the soil made a huge difference this year, especially for the quality of the grapes. ” We have not had to sort the grapes, we had no rot or other diseases, the grapes were very ripe, coming in at average around 10.5 to 10.8% potential alcohol, which is unheard of for Cuisle!”

Cedric with his Rosde maceration de Meunier

Cedric with his Rosé maceration de Meunier

With such beautiful grapes, Cédric decided to make two rosé de maceration, one of which he will bleed off to make some red wine for his regular rosé.

Just before harvest Cédric invested in smaller tanks, which allows him to vinify per press load and vineyard. “With our new tanks we can keep the different vineyards separately all the way, allowing us to decide at the last moment to blend them or to make a single vineyard cuvee”, elaborates Cédric. Just before harvest I tasted Cédric’s first single vineyard Meunier which blew me away, so I am very excited about this new development!!

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 as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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