Friday, 22 September 2017
2017 Loire – a generally promising vintage – my impression so far
After a week on the road we are now back in our base in the Cher Valley. Time to relax, reflect on what we have seen, heard and tasted as well as get out on the bike to work off any additional pounds gained.
Since we arrived in the Loire we have been to the following appellations looking at vineyards, talking to producers and often tasting the recently pressed juice or juice that has recently started fermenting. ACs: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Fiefs Vendéens, Touraine, Menetou-Salon, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Saumur-Champigny and Saumur. We have not yet had time to visit Anjou nor indeed any of the vineyards of the Upper Loire.
The vintage is a truly magical time of the year! I am always grateful for the time that so many producers give me at this very busy period. It's a great privilege!
My overall impression – though I agree it is still early days – is that 2017 is a good to very promising vintage. Tasting juice from Muscadet to Pouilly I have found that they all have weight of fruit, are very clean, precise and well balanced.
The major concern, of course is the loss of crop due to the late April frosts. However, the effects are very variable with, of all the places, we have visited Muscadet being the worst hit but this is very variable with some producers barely affected to those who have lost virtually all of their 2017 crop. Picking will now be over in Muscadet and a substantial proportion of the crop in Sancerre will have been picked by the middle of next.
In contrast most of the Cabernet Franc in Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Bourgueil and Chinon has yet to be picked. Many producers are planning to start this coming Monday.
For the moment the weather forecast is good more settled than the first part of the month, which has been quite wet after a dry summer and sometimes very hot summer.
One producer I saw today thought 2017 might be as good as 2005. Maybe but the September rains must have brought some dilution, although below the top soil the ground remains very dry.
Time early next week to have a look at Montlouis and Vouvray.
Over the next few days I plan to post more detailed reports on individual appellations.