Part of Epeigné including the Mairie taken from top of l'Eglise
A little after 18.30 on Monday 27th September 2021 we came back to France, La Loire and Epeigné-les-Bois for the first time since 9th July 2020. This is our longest spell away from France for over 40 years. It is great to be back – great to be away from England, which has become an increasingly sad and insane country. Good to come to a country where buying petrol isn't a problem and the shelves in the shops are full.
Our spell away was due to the second COVID lockdown. Thanks to be being double vaccinated we can come back even though the daily UK infection rate remains worryingly high with no-one in 'Government' appearing to care. Good to see here that wearing a mask in shops etc appears to be universal unlike England where the government has said you do as you wish so many people don't bother to wear a mask in confined spaces.
We nearly didn't get here as with the petrol supply crisis we only had 60 miles of petrol in our car and we needed 65 to get to the tunnel. Fortunately we have a hybrid motor so we got to the tunnel and through to France OK but it was nail-bitingly close!
The 2021 harvest is now well underway in many parts of the Loire, so now seems a good time to resurrect Jim's Loire after its long COVID confinement... As throughout almost all of France 2021 in the Loire is a very small harvest overall but it appears that there are wide variations – some parcels that weren't hit by the April frosts or hail in the early summer or not badly affected by mildew have produced normal quantities of around 45 hl/ha. Other less fortunate plots have virtually no grapes or just 4 or 5 hl/ha.
On Tuesday afternoon I cycled over to Angé to see how Vincent Roussely's 2021 harvest was going. Given the context of 2021 Vincent is reasonably happy. He started picked at the end of the week beginning 13th September. Yields vary between 18 - 25 hl/ha with potential alcohols ranging from 12.2 to 12.3. Vincent has now picked most of his grapes – Sauvignon Blanc, Arbois, Gamay, Pineau d'Aunis, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. He is now waiting for his Côt to ripen. Vincent stressed that although the quality is good, the grapes are quite fragile, so it was important to pick while the weather has been good.
Vincent thinks 2021 will be ready to drink young with an accent on the fruit with greater freshness than some recent vintages like 2018 – more typically Loire. He won't be making his more long lasting wines that require more concentration.
The weather forecast at the beginning of October is not favourable with some heavy rain forecast for this weekend.