A look back at the 2020 vintage with Alice Tétienne
We met with Alice Tétienne shortly after she joined Henriot in February 2020. We’re back again with her today to discuss her first full year with the Champagne House and to get to her take on the harvests, tastings, still wines, blends and the activity in the vineyards. It should be an interesting discussion!
The 2020 harvests
The 2020 harvests took place in excellent conditions for Alice Tétienne.
We have become accustomed to early ripening vintages in recent years but 2020 was a record for Henriot in terms of the harvesting date. Everything was ready to go and then ripening began to slow a little which gave our vineyard teams the chance to carry out further analyses of the grapes, more detailed observations of the plots and to visit all the Henriot vineyards. The fruit displayed excellent heterogeneity which allowed Alice to organise the picking order in optimal conditions.
The harvest was the best time for her to really get to grips with her new role. It is always an important moment in the year but it really enabled her to immerse herself in her role, taste the fruit, get to know the partner winegrowers better and enjoy the shared experience. It was important to her to make the most of this exceptional time of year when everyone comes together.
Even if there was not the same buzz as in previous years owing to the Covid pandemic, this actually enabled her to dedicate as much time as possible to her teams.
Let’s not forget just how deeply connected Henriot is to its vineyards: Its motto is ‘The wine is made in the vineyards’.
The still wines
The still wines were of exceptionally high quality. The grapes were perfectly healthy and there was no mistaking the heterogeneity of the vintage in the fruit.
Heterogeneity was in fact the byword on all levels: the ripeness levels, the harvesting dates, the evolution of the wines, fermentation times, as well as the colorimetry, aromatic expression and contrasts in the wines.
Blending is a long process at Henriot and continues right through until late March or early April. There were, of course, a few changes this year although nothing that really affected the way in which the Champagne House works.
The role of the reserve wines in the blend is to impart additional aromas to the wine. Henriot had very little need for them this year as the 2020 vintage was already showing a great diversity of aromas, generosity and a wide palette from which to work, full of nuances and contrasts. The proportion of reserve wines used was therefore less than in a standard year.
Henriot’s objective in terms of blending is to create the purest expression possible of the vineyards.
The 29 crus that make up the wines originate from different plots of vines and different growing techniques. There are as many forms of viticulture as there are plots and the skilled work of each partner winegrower is palpable in the finished wines.
The Brut Souverain offers a remarkable expression and true representation of the vineyards.
The technical aspect of winemaking is of the utmost importance at Henriot. The Champagne House has always had its own agronomy engineer who supports and advises the partner winegrowers throughout the year. For the past few months, the agronomy engineer has also been working on Henriot’s ‘Alliance Terroir’ project which aims to provide a better understanding of the Champagne House’s soils and introduce new methods in the vineyards as necessary.
2020 was an outstanding vintage for Henriot and a fantastic year for Alice Tétienne. The heterogeneity, generosity and precision of the vintage are unrivalled.