Loire 2011 at Ten Years

There are some vintages that bring about a sense of anticipation, and I have perhaps had my fair share recently. There is no denying that I enjoyed returning to the 2010 vintage in the Loire Valley when it hit ten years of age, a year (or so) ago. With close to seventy wines lined up, from some of the region’s most famous names, it seemed likely I was in for a treat. Yes, of course its prime purpose was to inform, to provide some small guidance for those who choose to cellar the wines of the Loire. But let’s not overlook the joy that comes with tasting and drinking these wines in maturity.

So too the 2005 vintage, reviewed when it reached fifteen years of age. With names such as Clos Rougeard, Domaine Huet and Charles Joguet (among many others) popping up, this was a tasting of delightfully (well, mostly – you can’t win them all) mature wine, equally informative, but also undeniably a joy. At the conclusion of these two reports, I would surely be forgiven for asking whether this was really work, or pure pleasure.

Into every life, some rain must fall. Or, you have to take the rough with the smooth. Insert your own alternative idiom here if you wish. Because it is time to revisit 2011 vintage in the Loire Valley, now that it has hit (a little over) ten years of age.

Loire 2011

While the reputation of this vintage lags some way behind 2010 and 2005, I nevertheless have been looking forward to revisiting it. Not because I am a masochist, and memories of rot-infested bunches of Melon de Bourgogne fill me with quivering excitement. No, because I know that in the Loire Valley in every vintage somebody, somewhere, has the opportunity to shine. With a vineyard which runs along maybe 800 kilometres of river banks, from Roanne and Clermont-Ferrand in the Upper Loire, to the Atlantic vineyards down at the coast, no two regions experience quite the same weather in any one year. While one vigneron experiences a failed harvest, another can produce some of the best wines they have ever made.

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