On Thursday morning I crossed the Loire to explore the region of Pouilly-Fumé, calling in at a number of domaines in Tracy-sur-Loire, Pouilly-sur-Loire, Les Loges and Saint-Andelain. There was continued activity on the roads as we departed Chavignol, yesterday’s rain stepping up the pace a little, before it could turn the rot to grey. Fortunately the temperatures have dropped somewhat, which the vignerons are happy about. There is an acceptance that there will be no further ripening now as the weather simply isn’t good enough, and indeed warm weather would simply advance the rot. Cold weather, however, will retard the development of the rot and keep things clean while the vignerons get the picking done.
Once over in Pouilly we enjoyed a whistle-stop one-morning tour of the appellation, hearing about the 2013 harvest along the way, picking well underway here, and we also tasted a little freshly pressed juice. Most domaines seem to have begun last week (generally towards the end, although some were earlier) or Monday this week. At Château de Tracy for example, picking began by hand on September 26th, and was about to finish. At Jonathon Pabiot, where we spoke to Didier Pabiot (Jonathon’s father) and Jonathon’s, partner Nina Schomakers (pictured above), with only a relatively small vineyard to pick they were happy that they had begun at the right time, and they were halfway to completion. The alcoholic potential here is about 12.2%, a figure with which they are very content. And, as elsewhere, although the Sauvignon Blanc here carried some rot, it remains noble and clean tasting, and without any sweetening concentration. At Michel Redde the potentials ranged from 10.5% to 11.7%, so a little lower here, with yields between 50 and 55 hl/ha.
In Saint-Andelain we call in to see Benjamin Dagueneau (below), where we tasted the 2013 juice, of which there is very restricted quantities. The picking from Buisson Renard, for example, would usually come close to filling a 9100-litre steel vat, but this year there is only 1950 litres (possibly ‘so far’ – I forgot to ask if there was more yet to come), about 20% the normal volume. Benjamin has clearly been working hard to maximise quality in this difficult vintage, with “tri, beaucoup, beaucoup, beaucoup” being his summing up of the vintage. After the juice we also tasted through all the 2012s from vat, and I will add a report on these wines to the subscribers area before long.
We called in at Masson-Blondelet who had begun on Monday this week, finding acceptable ripenes and a little rot, but small yields due to hail earlier in the year. And then with a long drive ahead of us Jim Budd and I headed back to Touraine, but not before stopping off with Denis Jamain in Reuilly. Denis was close to finishing picking all his whites and reds, and finds quality in the latter higher than in the former. The alcoholic potential here is between 12% and 12.5%, and the yields are not at all bad, with 35 hl/ha for Pinot Noir and 55 hl/ha for Sauvignon Blanc. Denis believes that it is soil type that will have made the biggest difference in this vintage, with more sandy soils encouraging rot, but limestone terroirs more resistant. After that, he says, it is all down to when you started picking.
Today (Friday) we are heading downstream to Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, then sadly I will be heading home via the airport at Tours. I will post a report on Friday’s visits tomorrow.