Two Vintages from Domaine de la Noblaie, 2021
The Loire Valley is currently riding high, atop a crest of excellent vintages. Not always excellent in terms of quantity of course, some unfortunate regions and vignerons having been hit by frost in 2016, 2017 and 2019. But in terms of quality nobody who managed to pick some fruit really has anything to complain about. And that is particularly true of the red wines of the region, with some stunning wines in 2018 and 2015, and despite those spring frosts many excellent wines in 2016 and 2017 as well.
To this pantheon of fine vintages we can now add 2019 and 2020. My encounters with these two vintages thus far – extensive in the case of the former vintage, but more limited in the case of the latter (yeah, thanks, Covid-19) – suggest they are intent on continuing this run of high quality. The 2019 vintage began with frost, followed by long periods of warm and dry weather, enough to cause younger vines to struggle a little. September rains came at just the right time, giving the late-ripening varieties a real boost at the end, producing wines of excellent quality.
The 2020 vintage kicked off with a record-breaking early budbreak, but no frost this time, and again summer was warm, dry and benevolent. In truth, apart from the frost, it was very similar to 2019; an inevitably early harvest brought in excellent volumes of ripe and healthy fruit. In neither case was the potential for sweet wines particularly strong (look to 2018 for that), the conditions not conducive to leaving fruit on the vine for long enough to achieve that degree of concentration, but the prospects for dry styles – especially dry red styles – were clearly high.