Charles Sydney will probably not be an unfamiliar name to most Winedoctor readers. Charles works as a courtier in the Loire, making connections between vignerons and retailers, and even fashioning a range of special cuvées – working with a number of his vignerons – under his La Grille label, which has achieved some very good shelf positions in the UK. He’s always ready with a report on the Loire harvest. I received this message from Charles on October 8th. My apologies for taking so long to publish it here.
Over to Charles:
Bit grey out there today, so we’re back in the office with a chance to catch up on the harvest.
First things first : we’ve watched Muscadet, Touraine, Sancerre (harvest pictured below) and Pouilly coming in and quality looks really, really good.
Which is almost miraculous after a year when growers have faced everything from spring frosts to hail, mildew and – worst of all – a drought that lasted all through the summer and right up to the first days of picking.
The result is a teeny harvest in Muscadet – at a mere 20 – 25 hectolitres/hectare it’s around 50% down (which is just what the guys in Muscadet didn’t need), but with a quality that I don’t remember being priviliged to see before… lovely ripe, golden, almost viscous juice with bags of flavour and a nice touch of acidity to balance. Sort of 2003 crossed with 2010.
In the Touraine, Sauvignon yields vary from 18 to 50 hectolitres/hectare – a range in part due to the pressures of frost and much to the individuals’ willingness and ability to keep things under control. The juice is great – loads of flavour and a tingle of acidity.
Meanwhile, up in Sancerre and Pouilly things are looking even better, with just enough rain pre-harvest to soften the skins enough to let the guys press the grapes! Yields look OK (say 50 hectolitres/hectare) and quality is looking lovely with hardly a rotten grape to be seen (as pictured above). Jean-Marie Bourgeois compared it to a cross between 2002 and 2009.
‘Ouf!’ as they say!
Vouvray and Montlouis are sort of starting – and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for the reds.
Thanks for this report Charles. It loks as though in the Loire, as with my experiences during my recent visit to Bordeaux, the dry whites are promising much. Yields may be down (bad news for the growers, but not usually for drinkers, despite theoretical concerns about availability) but the juices sound rich and flavoursome and, importantly, as they were in Bordeaux, rich in vibrant acidity.
The concern here, as it was/is in Bordeaux, is with the later-picked fruit for the red wines and of course – in both regions – the sweet wines. I don’t feel a great deal of optimism for either at present.