Domaine la Haute Févrie, 2019 Update

Branger is an well-known name in the Muscadet region, principally due to the work of Claude Branger, who took over the running of this domaine from his father. Claude made his name in the 1980s with his Excellence cuvée, followed by a string of high-quality vintages from his vines on Les Gras Moutons. Today he has ceded control of the domaine to his own son, Sébastien Branger. The principal development during Sébastien’s tenure has been the conversion of the domaine to organic viticulture, starting in 2012, working on a parcel-by-parcel basis. Other significant changes include the addition of a number of new single-vineyard cuvées to the portfolio, not to mention two crus communaux wine.

Domaine la Haute Févrie

Tasting with Sébastien (pictured above) in early 2019, I my focus was on the 2018, 2017 and 2016 vintages. The 2018 vintage started off in a challenging fashion, with a wet spring as described in my Loire 2018 report. Two storms, one in May and one in June, bringing 70 mm and 50 mm of rain respectively, added to the challenge. The disease pressure was high, and Sébastien was out treating the vines very frequently. Eventually warmer weather arrived, and this continued through July, August and September. There was a little rain at two points in August, which helped the maturity of the fruit without causing any problems. In the end Sébastien found the fruit to be ripening at quite a pace, and he completing the harvest in the time-frame he desired was a challenge. Some grapes had already attained a potential alcohol over 13% (stratospheric for Muscadet), inducing a sense of urgency; in order to finish the picking in a timely fashion he brought in the last few hectares using machine, eventually finishing on September 17th, with a handsome yield. It was a very different story to that of 2017 and 2016, both vintages in which Sébastien saw his crop reduced in volume, by frost in 2017 and by mildew in 2016.

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