Loire 2021: First Taste
My Loire 2021 vintage report makes clear that this was a difficult vintage for much of the Loire Valley. The year started with an extensive and protracted period of frost, significant on two counts. Firstly, because it was widespread, with every region and appellation affected, even touching those that often escape frost damage (such as Sancerre, where the local topography of plateau, slopes and valleys tends to protect the vines). Secondly because when it struck it caused very serious damage, with losses of 70% to 90% not unknown, especially in the Nantais. This puts the 2021 frost in the same catastrophic ballpark as that which hit the 1991 vintage.
Thereafter the season was challenging, with a patchy flowering, cool and damp summer weather including for an unlucky few hail, and a significant attack of mildew. It was only the warmer and drier weather through September and into October that allowed the vines to bring their fruit to a maturity that could be described as ripe.
These conditions were in complete contrast to other recent vintages. Frosts aside, the run of vintages from 2015 through to 2020 have largely been characterised by warm and dry weather, excellent conditions for the red wines, and sometimes for sweet wines, but more difficult for dry whites. While some of the reds in recent years have been absolutely delicious, many of the dry whites have tended towards a richer style which ranged at best from deliciously textured and delicately balanced with just perceptible acidity to, at worst, broad and blowsy, wines lacking any sense of frame or freshness. Let’s just say it has been something of a dry period for lovers of acidity.