The 1949 vintage is remembered as a year of extreme weather conditions that persisted for some days after the beginning of the harvest on 19 September. The 24 September then brought more settled weather that allowed the grapes to achieve a perfect balance of acidity and alcohol — a promise of wines with excellent ageing potential.
The winter months saw mild, sunny weather, followed by frost in February
then cold, dry conditions in early March. The end of the month brought
warmer temperatures that accelerated growth and triggered bud break,
starting with the Chardonnay followed by the Pinot Noir and Meunier in the
first half of April. May was unusually cold, grey and wet, bringing the
first serious rainfall since the previous autumn but also delaying growth
by a fortnight. Flowering occurred in late June and stretched over more
than three weeks, hampered by low nighttime temperatures that increased
the incidence of millerandage, especially among the Chardonnay vines. An
unusually warm and sunny July then accelerated ripening, but August,
albeit hot, turned out to be exceptionally wet and thundery. In just four
days nearly a month’s worth of rain pounded the vineyards, accompanied by
hailstones that caused serious damage in the Marne Valley, the Côte des
Blancs and the Montmort area. The wet weather led to outbreaks of grey
mould, which varied considerably from place to place but caused only
negligible losses. Cover cropping certainly helped, as did soil
maintenance, vine selection and an unusually painstaking grape-sorting
Picking commenced amid thundery showers that kept sugar levels low:
10.5-11% vol, with the top growths not exceeding 11.5% vol. Total acidity
was 6.5g/l H2SO4. The average yield per hectare was 4,500 kg/ha, which slightly exceeded forecasts.
Analysis conducted by the AVC-CIVC technical and enological services.