The vintage is now well underway with some producers starting as early as the first days of September. Overall quantity is up except for producers badly hit by mildew due to the heavy rains and humid conditions of late May/early June. Quality wise this appears to be the fifth successive good to excellent Loire vintage, which is quite unprecedented.
The very wet and humid weather at the end of May and into June provoked a lot of mildew with organic producers particularly hit. Touraine appears to be have been more seriously affected than the Pays Nantais. Here the producers are very happy after two very difficult years – 2016 and 2017 – due to serious frost damage. It was good to see Vincent Caillé (Domaine de Fay d'Homme) relaxed and smiling in contrast to the obvious worry and concern of last year. Pierre-Marie Luneau (Domaine Luneau-Papin) was delighted with the quality of the fruit and its balance. We tasted some of the juice, which appeared to be very promising indeed.
With temperatures hitting the 30s early this week the pace of picking is accelerating to avoid alcoholic degrees shooting up and acidity levels declining.
In Touraine Vincent Ricard started picking on Monday 3rd. He is happy as he has avoided any serious attack of mildew but at the cost of treating his vines 14 or 15 times. His Sauvignon is coming in at between 12.5˚ potential with the acidity averaging 5.2. Yields at 50-55 hl/ha. He expects to finish harvesting the middle of next week.
Vincent Roussely (Angé) started picking on Monday 10th September. Due to the heat they are only picking in the morning. I saw some Sauvignon Rosé that they had picked – the grapes very healthy and clean.
Luc Poullain, Domaine des Echardières – also in Angé – like Vincent Roussely also started on Monday but picking Chardonnay. He warned that vines on clay were coping well with the drought – just 10mm of rain in two months – but other on easy draining soils were suffering with maturation blocked especially if they were young vines.
In Montlouis Jacky Blot started last Thursday – earlier than he had originally thought but with the grapes ripening rapidly he didn't want the alcohol levels to shoot up and the acidity to fall away, especially as he picks by hand – three teams of pickers in action.
In certain parcels he has been badly hit by mildew with very small yields. However, the incidence is very irregular with his best parcels like the Clos Mosny and Clos Michet resisting well.
Today Jacky and a team will start picking his top Vouvray (Vin de France) from the Clos de Venise.