Friday was a gloriously sunny autumn day with temperatures around 20˚C and a good drying east wind. If the Loire had been blessed with more days like this we would be hailing 2013 as a good vintage here.
After spending the night in Angers at L'Hotel du Mail, my hotel of preference there, we headed to Savennières.
Up at Le Moulin de Beaupréau (Savennières) we found Catherine and Emmanuel Ogereau with a small team of pickers busy on the fourth tri of their parcel here. They told us that the first tri here had been on Monday 13th. They had picked Cabernet Franc yesterday and would pick again tomorrow (Saturday). Apart from a small parcel, all of their Cabernet Sauvignon was rotten. "It was no good waiting any longer – just a question of picking what was still good."
Driving down to the hamlet of Chaume we passed Guy Rochais (Château de Plaisance) who was testing a parcel of Chenin (at the entrance of the driveway to Plaisance) that would be going into making Anjou Blanc Sec – the degrees were between 14.5˚ and 15˚. He added that there is a move to create a Chaume'Anjou appellation for dry whites from here. The aim would be to give producers a hopefully more prestigious appellation than plain Anjou Blanc sec, which could be particularly useful in difficult years like 2012 and this year.
I looked at some of the Baumard vines on the parcel on the flatter ground above the terraces. Of the vines I saw in Q de C on Friday these certainly are amongst the most advanced in the appellation (see photos above). I deliberately didn't taste any of the Baumard grapes. Instead tasted a few at the same stage from a nearby plot. They were becoming concentrated but I doubt if any were at the required 18˚ still with some dilution from the recent rain (Tuesday and Wednesday), although I didn't have a mustimeter so have no actual readings. However a few days of weather similar to Friday would I think concentrate sugars very quickly.
Unsuprisingly grapes in the opulently green leafed vignes larges at the top of the terraces overlooking the Layon are considerably less advanced. So, too, are grapes on the terraced vines either side of the rough track that leads down to the Layon. As you walk down from the entrance to Château de Bellerive to the small road alongside the Layon (laid on the old railway track that ran beside the Layon towards Chalonnes and then across to Savennières), it is noticeable that this part is more sheltered, so grapes here benefit less from the drying action of the wind. I suspect also that here there are shorter hours of sunshine than for the vines higher up.
If the weather gods behave themselves there could well be the potential for some good Quarts de Chaume this year. There is plenty of rot – all that is needed is some favourable weather to concentrate the sugars. By the 19th October 2012 the weather station at Beaucouzé (just west of Angers) had recorded 187 mm of rain – for 2013 it's 43mm. The average for the whole of October (1981-2010) is 71.8mm.
Update: 22nd October 2013
The INAO inspected the Q de C vines of Domaine des Baumard on Friday and have granted a dérogation. I understand that the premier tri has now been done.