Domaine des Herbauges, 2015 Update

I have tasted a lot of wines from Muscadet in the 2014 vintage, at trade tastings in London, during meetings with vignerons in the Loire Valley, and even blind as one of the Loire judges in the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards. With all this tasting experience under my belt one things seems clear; this is a very fine vintage indeed for the region, one that could well usurp my previous favourites, which are 2012, 2010 and 2008 (it seems as though there is an ‘even-vintage’ thing going on with Muscadet). I report on another encounter with the wines here; I tasted all the 2014s from Domaine des Herbauges with Jérôme Choblet when I met up with him in January 2015, from an entry-level IGP Val de Loire cuvée all the way up to the top Muscadet, the Roche Blanche cuvée, as well as a few other new or interesting wines along the way.

I have already made mention of Jérôme’s take on the vintage in my 2014 Muscadet report, but it is worth considering his words once more. The weather here was dismal through July and most of August too, just as it was elsewhere in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. On this matter, however, Jérôme (pictured below) was sanguine; “it is not important, as it is not relevant to the maturity of the fruit….it was September that made the difference”. Jérôme told me that after August 20th had been and gone it was “sun, sun, sun all the way”, and he started picking not quite a month later, on September 18th. The weather was so warm he directed harvesting at night, starting at 11pm, finishing at 10am, working in the cellars during the day, then grabbing just a few hours sleep before he started again the same evening.

Domaine des Herbauges

Jérôme’s dedication ensured the fruit arrived at the cellars cool, helping to calm the subsequent fermentations. The only time he has harvested at night before was in the 2003 vintage. Here, as elsewhere, the yields are better than they were in 2013 (a relief for all concerned), but they still stopped short of what he was aiming for which is generally 48-50 hl/ha. Again, it was the September concentration that reduced the volumes (a feature of the vintage in both the Loire Valley and Bordeaux). The alcoholic potentials were good across the board, anything up to 12.5º. Physiological ripeness doesn’t appear to be an issue in this vintage.

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