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Loire 2018: Muscadet at Nouvel Ancrage, 2021

Loire 2018: Muscadet at Nouvel Ancrage

Next up in my series of Muscadet reports is the 2018 vintage. This is a short report on a handful of wines tasted with the Fédération des Vins de Nantes late in 2021, and is a companion piece to my short report on the 2019 vintage, as well as my more extensive Muscadet Crus Communaux tasting report, and my return to the 2020 Muscadet vintage.

Arguably the most solaire of recent vintages, certainly so if the style of the wines has been anything to go by, 2018 is a year in which entry-level cuvées struggled for balance. More upmarket cuvées, from old vines or more hallowed terroirs are always going to be have greater potential in these situations though. Indeed, a number of vignerons in the region have a track record of pulling the proverbial lapin out of the chapeau in warmer vintages, with 2003 and 2009 being good examples. Both saw the release of a number of concentrated, mineral and acid-fresh (yes, even in 2003) long-lees-aged and crus communaux cuvées.

So, warm vintage or not, a tasting featuring cuvées from the likes of Bruno Cormerais, Christophe Gadais (pictured below) and the Günther-Chéreau clan, as we have here, certainly holds some promise.

The 2018 Vintage

The start of 2018 was characterised by two displaced polar vortices which swept down over Europe in February and March. The cold weather kept the vines in a state of dormancy for longer, reducing the length of time during which frost was a risk. Good news after 2016 and 2017! Despite the weather turning warmer in later April, and the rapid appearance of new buds and leaves, there was no frost damage in 2018, and the vignerons at last had something to celebrate. They still had their work cut out though; humid conditions through May and June meant mildew was a constant threat, and the vines required regularly treatments. Who would want the life of a vigneron?

Muscadet 2018

As with 2019 the weather flipped quite suddenly, although this year it was in mid-June that the clouds dissipated and rainy weather gave way to sunshine. There followed a long and dry period of warm weather, with barely a drop of rain falling in the region. The conditions remained like this right the way through the harvest. The fruit was picked ripe and clean, with potentials a little higher than the norm, and the acid levels were lower. The result was a vintage of richly polished wines with occasionally higher alcohols and rather soft structures, at least at the entry-level.

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