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1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 17 October 2019

2019 Loire: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Vouvray

Sancerre - evening
Sancerre in the evening light – taken from above Chavignol

Quick summary of reports: good to excellent vintage in Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Vouvray
In the middle of last week we spent a day and half making a number of quick visits in Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire to see how the 2019 vintage had gone. Unfortunately it hadn't been possible for us to get there during the harvest. Although we did spot one small team still picking, everyone else had finished.


François Crochet, Bué
"We have to keep our feet on the ground. Yes we do have some very good vignerons and exceptional terroir but we have had a lot of luck to have another exceptional vintage!"

This is certainly true as Sancerre has largely avoided the various frosts that have hit other parts of the Loire hard over the past few years, including neighbouring Pouilly-Fumé that has suffered.

"We started on 18th September and finished on 28th. Pinot Noir ranges from 13%-14.8% and the Sauvignon from 12.8% and 14.2% with the ph around 3.25."

Tasting a number of fermenting vats with François it was easy to see why he is pleased with 2019 as was in the case with those that I tasted with Matthieu Delaporte, Clément Pinard.

Tasting the nu- Matthieu D
Tasting the fermenting 2019 Sancerre Blanc in Matthieu Delaporte's
grandfather's cellar in Chavignol

Matthieu Delaporte, Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Chavignol
"We started on the 16th September and finished on Tuesday 1st October. I am particularly happy with the grapes that we picked in the first week before there was any rain. The grapes were very well balanced. After we had some rain from around 22nd September the acidity levels dropped a little. We picked for the Rosé on 21st and then the reds on 23rd and 24th. Potential alcohol for the whiles is around 13.5%, while for the reds it is between 13.3% and 13.5%. Compared to last year quantity is down by between 10%-15%"

Jean-Laurent Vacheron, Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre
"Despite two years of drought we have a normal vintage in white, although the quantity of red is down. We had no rain from early June to September. We started on 12th September and finished on 4th October. We started the Pinot Noir on 24th September. The harvest took a little longer than we anticipated as we lacked pickers. 140 pickers signed up to harvest for us but on 80 turned up – 43% less than expected. The peaks of sunshine did burn some of the grapes and there was some oidium near the Loire."

Benoît Fouassier, Domaine Fouassier, Sancerre
Like the other vignerons Benoît is very happy with his 2019.

"Vineyards where the soil is harrowed suffered less from the drought than those where the soil isn't turned over. We started on 16th September and finished on 30th. The Pinot Noir grapes were perfect (Benoît showed me a video on his phone of perfect bunches moving along the sorting table.) Our Sauvignon Blanc ranges from 13%-14% potential with acidity between 4 and 4.5 and a yield of between 50-55 hl/ha. 2019 is fresher than 2018 as it was less hot for most of the vendange. The reds have a little less concentration than last year but more fruit flavours."

Clément and Vincent Pinard, Domaine Vincent Pinard, Bué
Vincent: "Despite the incidence of coulure caused by wet and cold weather during the flowering we are reasonably content. We started on 16th September and finished last week on 2nd October."

Clément: "2019 has a great potential. The drought and the heat spikes concentrated both the sugars and acidity in the grapes. Our Sauvignon Blanc came in between 12.5% - 13.7% potential with the acidity varying between 4.20 and 5.10 and Pinot Noir between 13.5% and 13.7% with 4.3 acidity. Overall quantity is down on last year".


Loic Cailbourdin, Domaine Alain Cailbourdin, Maltaverne
"Quality is good and are average yield is 42 hl/ha due to the drought and grapes being frazzled by the sun. Our Sauvignon came in around 13% or more with acidity between 4.4 and 4.5 and a ph of 3.26-3.30, which is a good balance. The acidities are similar to last year. The Ban des Vendanges was on 16th September but we started on the 20th September and finished on Thursday 3rd October."

Sébastien Redde, Domaine Michel Redde, Saint-Andelain
"It's a good harvest with a yield of around 45 hl/ha. The berries were small and we had a frost at the end of April. Regarding other vintages 2019 reminds me of 1997 and 2015. Our Sauvignon was at 14% potential, acidity at 4.5 and ph between 3.25 and 3.30".

Cul de Beujeu
Looking towards the steep slopes of the Cul de Beaujeu, Chavignol

Towards the little village of Amigny
– part of the Commune of Sancerre

Looking down on the little village of Chavignol
home of many leading Sancerre producers


On Friday afternoon (11th October) I rode over to Vouvray crossing the Loire at Amboise and returning by the Charles de Gaulle Bridge between Vouvray and Montlouis – an excursion of 90 kms on an e-bike. There were a good number of other cyclists about trying out the end of route of the Paris-Tours race, which was run on Sunday.

Julien Pinon, Domaine François Pinon, Vernou-sur-Brenne
I arrived the day after they had finished picking, so they were in the middle of their Berlot – the traditional party for the pickers to celebrate the end of the harvest. I managed to prise Julien away from the festivities for a few minutes to chat about the 2019 harvest.

"We started on 16th September picking our base wines for our sparkling and finished yesterday (10th October). We have a very high quality in 2019. Potential alcohols vary between 11.5% for our pétillants and 13.7% for the demi-sec. We have made any moelleux this year as the degrees didn't go high enough, the rains have started and we made a lot last year. Unfortunately it is very difficult to sell sweet wine at the moment. We had five nights of frost from 4th April to 6th May leading to 30% loss. Then the drought and between 10%-20% loss due to grapes being burnt by the sun not forgetting coulure and millerandage. Thankfully with the early frost on 4th April the second generation grapes came through and ripened. Also to our surprise there was a lot of juice in the berries".

Bernard Fouquet, Domaine des Aubuisières, Vouvray 
"We started on 23rd September and finished on 8th October. Compared to last year the sugar levels are the same but there is more acidity but as there is a lot of tartaric a lot may drop out during maturation. Potential for our grapes was between 13%-14% with the majority around 13.5% with phs from 3.15 to 3.20. Still wines we have made sec and demi-sec but no moelleux this year as we made a lot last year. Overall our yields are correct – 44 hl/ha with the still wines at 35 hl/ha. We lost 10% to frost as well as some to the drought and the heat spikes. Where we have rows running north- south we had losses due to the strength of the afternoon sun. I have a friend who told me that with the ozone level shrinking the sun's rays are now more aggressive."

Bernard was not to be drawn whether he preferred 2019 to 2018. "It's too early to say...."

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