In this earliest every cognac harvest since records began, one grower even superseded the BNIC recommendations.
Fabien Godard, a grower in Petite Champagne, began his harvest on Friday, 2nd September. He said it was essential to begin, with the hot and humid weather sure to promote rot on the heavy clusters of grapes.
However, so far there have been few outbreaks of rot – thankfully – and acidity and alcoholic strength is looking as it should. The average yield is expected to be around 120 hectolitres per acre, but this is expected to vary widely, up to around 20 hectolitres, per area. The last BNIC control should be released today – Tuesday – and after that the harvest will begin in earnest.
But the early harvest is not the only oddity for this year. 2011 is the first year that a new administrative framework has regulated production – plot allocation. This means that in the spring, each grower had to state exactly what his yield would be used for. For example cognac, pineau, wine, grape juice etc.
On Monday the 5th the BNIC sent out a press release compiling all these figures. In the cognac region, out of a total of 77,751 hectares – 72,107 will be used solely for the production of cognac. 1.5 per cent has been reserved for Pineau, 2.2 per cent for local wines and the remaining 3.6 per cent for grape must, juice and sparkling wine base.