Vincent Malherbe, vineyard manager for Moët & Chandon: “Each winegrower and Champagne shipper should be able to test new techniques ”

Thursday July 09 2020 by Vitisphere

'In the name of showing respect for tradition, our industry has come to a standstill”, says Vincent Malherbe.'In the name of showing respect for tradition, our industry has come to a standstill”, says Vincent Malherbe. - Photo credit : Moet et Chandon

In your magazine ‘Partenaires’, designed for winegrowers who work with Moët & Chandon, you invite Champagne to experiment with its future. Along what lines?

Champagne will have to work on three essential points which are adapting to climate change; environmental issues; and production costs in the vineyard. The rate of change is speeding up, our ecosystem is evolving faster than ever before. Speed is of the essence!

What do you suggest?

I suggest that every winegrower and shipper with vineyards should be able to test new techniques on 2 to 3% of their vineyard acreage. Harvest returns would be the same, but the fruit would not be included in the Champagne appellation. In order to achieve this, specifications for our appellation would have to authorise experimentation over a given, identified area, specifying the type of experiment. The purpose is not to give producers a licence to do anything, but to help our industry move forward. I would like to see an area of freedom supervised by the marketing board.

Which trials would you like to conduct?

I'd like to test some Italian resistant varieties. We need to experiment with plant material. We could also test southern white varieties that ripen slower. In twenty years, our harvest dates have been brought forward by three weeks and ripeness has gained 1.5°.

What about machine harvesting?

We are obviously in favour of machine harvesting trials. This should not be a taboo subject. I'm not sure that we can afford harvests costing between €0.50 and 0.80 /kg for much longer! Burgundy, Bordeaux and most other wine regions use machines. Why not Champagne? Nothing stands still. 150 years ago, there was no Chardonnay in Champagne. Now it's the king of our grape varieties!”

 

 

 

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