UMC - Grandes Marques et Maisons de Champagne

Exceptional vintages

1955 Harvest Overview - a memorable vintage

The year 1955 has gone down in the annals of Champagne history as a vintage that surpassed all expectations in terms of both quality and quantity. The overall yield was the highest and the best of the past 20 years. It exceeded forecasts by better than 20%, averaging 8,500kg/ha and totalling 235.257 205-litre pièces (470.515 hectolitres).

The average date of bud burst was 25 April, slightly later than usual, with vines across the region showing high yield potential. May then brought severe frosts that wiped out 100% of plantings in the lesser growths (500 hectares). Elsewhere plantings were in full bloom by 25 June, albeit after a slow start. The percentage of fruit set was unusually high, with no reports of millerandage or coulure. The summer months enjoyed plentiful sunshine and timely rains that promoted ripening, with the average date of mid-veraison falling on 17 August. By harvest time, berry weight and volume had increased by 30% — an increase that was attributed to an ideal combination of sun, rain, morning mists and other natural factors.

Picking commenced on 28 September under sunny skies that persisted throughout the harvest. The bumper crop easily compensated for frost damage in the lesser growths and also plugged the shortfall in supply carried over from the previous year. The grapes had an average potential alcohol content of 10.4% with acidity of 8.5g/l H²SO4 — a somewhat firm acidity that boded well for ageing. The wines showed refined, elegant character from the outset, with all the hallmarks of a truly exceptional vintage.

CIVC Bulletin Number 35, Fourth Quarter 1955
Analysis conducted by the AVC-CIVC technical and enological services