Enfin! After some good to good plus vintage years for Champagne wines, including the classic 1995 and the somewhat inscrutable 1996, here at last is a year to match the halcyon days of 1988, 1989 and 1990, three stunning champagne vintages in a row. Whether it will come to resemble the rich 1990or the more elegant and restrained 1988, only time will tell although early indications point towards the latter.
A cold, partially frozen winter served to cleanse the vines, and a mild late Spring set the scene for perfect conditions at the important time of flowering (mid June). Mid summer was warm but by no means hot, but a series of excellent dry and sunny days from 10 September really served to crystallise the latent potential. The natural ABV level of over 10.5% was exceptional, and matched by goodish levels of acidity, not quite as high as 1996, but good enough to ensure balance in the vins clairs.