Le Clos de la Meslerie, 2014 Update

During July 2014 I called upon a number of Vouvray domaines, in each case tasting recent and older vintages, usually after a good nose around the vineyards and/or cellars, of course. In many cases I started with the 2013 vintage, already in bottle. Vouvray, unlike many of the world’s greatest wines (a club of which it is unquestionably a member) is not a wine that requires a long élevage; it is not unusual for the wines to be blended and bottled during the spring following the harvest. There were, however, two exceptions to this rule, where I was able to taste the components of the vintage from barrel instead. The first of these was with Peter Hahn, of Le Clos de la Meslerie. I report here on the 2013 vintage chez Hahn, on the barrel tasting itself, followed by a report on all the wines now in bottle, from 2011 back to the rarely encountered 2008 vintage.

The 2013 Vintage

It might feel as though we have hit groundhog day here but it is impossible to review any wines from Vouvray in the 2013 vintage without dealing with the issue of hail. As I have discussed previously, a catastrophic hail storm swept up through the appellation, travelling in a north-easterly direction from Rochecorbon. The first Peter Hahn knew of the destruction, however, was when another vigneron telephoned him to see how badly he had been hit. His response was something along the lines of “hail…..what hail?”

Peter had been one of the lucky ones, and his vineyards had largely escaped harm. The storm passed along the edge of his west parcel (pictured below in July 2014, Peter cutting weeds in his Ferrari tractor); about 100 metres beyond the end of the Meslerie vineyards his neighbour’s vines had been completely stripped. The storm then continued on up the Vallée de Cousse, were it wiped out almost all the vineyards belonging to François Pinon and his neighbours. Only a couple of François’ vineyards escaped any damage, one of which just happens to sit very close to Le Clos de la Meslerie.

Le Clos de la Meslerie

Although only a small percentage of the harvest was lost to hail, this was still a difficult vintage for Peter. Following the storm there was some warm and dry weather, which helped the vines to heal, but in the end the season closed with some warm and humid nights, bringing the threat of rot. From just 3.6 hectares of vines Peter brought in approximately 50 hectolitres of juice, giving a yield of approximately 14 hl/ha; the major downward pressure came from the autumn rot, and the strict selection it demanded. The juice filled just 22 barrels, far fewer than would be the norm.

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