Last month, I had a chance to visit the experimental vineyards, “Plumecoq” owned by the Comité Champagne (CIVC) with Yukari Sasamoto, a staff from CIVC Japon, followed by lunch with Vincent Perrin, General Director of the CIVC.
The Plumecoq has 10 ha of vineyards located on a hill in Chouilly, close to Epernay, heart of Champagne’s viticultural areas. Here, the CIVC is conducting a number of practical experiments with two main objectives – preservation of Champagne’s tradition and technical research for the future. The former includes preservation of the permitted grape varieties including Arbanne and Petite Meslier, as well as numerous Pinot Noir clones found in Champagne.
The research for the future includes a long-term project of development of new grape varieties. They are trying to create new varieties which are more disease-resistant and has the same flavours of traditional ones (Chardonnay/Pinot/Meunier), by crossing with an American variety (i.e., hybrid). The vineyard manager, Sebastien told us that it would require a huge amount of time and could result in selecting one variety out of 4,000-5,000 trials….. I also saw high-trellised vines that are not yet permitted in Champagne but could be in the future as well as robotic machines for more precise spraying, etc.
The CIVC is working on not only current issues but also forward-looking activities for the future of Champagne that is facing climate change, like other wine-growing regions. The CIVC has sustainability in its mind too. The Plumecoq vineyards are sustainably cultivated without herbicides and the building by the vineyards has solar panels on the roof that produce energies to maintain vineyards.