Loire dry whites & reds
|2016||Drink/Cellar||The 2016 vintage was a difficult one in many parts of the Loire valley. The culprits were frosts on the nights of April 26th and 27th, followed by heavy rains in May and June which led to catastrophic outbreaks of mildew; drought and high temperatures in July and August also had a negative effect. Muscadet was very badly hit, with a third of the zone unpicked and the smallest crop since 1949; other areas affected include Montlouis, Chinon, Bourgeuil and St Nicolas de Bourgeuil, Saumur-Champigny, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé (but not Sancerre), Quincy and Reuilly. Fine September weather towards the end of the season, though, helped create fresh and vibrant wines with ample classicism from those grapes which survived the early season depradations and the summer heat.|
|2015||Drink/Cellar||After the warmest winter in a century, late February and March were cool, so flowering came normally in early April, with more cool weather at the end of April and early May. After that, summer was sunny and warm with a very hot, early July. The growers were happy to see some mid-August rain, and fine, warm weather then returned for a leisurely September harvest. This is a great vintage across the board in the Loire, for dry wines, for red wines (which are riper than in 2014), and for sweet wines too (with vivid, fresh acidity as well as generous sugars). The best wines will make superb cellar prospects.|
|2014||Drink/Cellar||After a warm end to winter and a very dry March, bud break came early at the beginning of April. There was good weather for successful flowering, too, but apart from that, summer was cool and, between mid-July and mid-August, very wet. The weather finally changed at the end of August, and September was record-breakingly dry, sunny and windy, meaning that with maturity came concentration. Harvesting began in mid-September and gave an excellent crop of dry white and red wines with outstanding Muscadet and Sancerre and very good Anjou-Villages and Chinon. There was rain in early October which cut the crop of sweet wines, but those who waited for fine weather at the end of October made small quantities of moelleux and liquoreux, the latter with over 20˚ of potential alcohol.|
|2013||Drink||Late winter and spring saw prolonged cold, meaning that bud break came two weeks late, into mid-April (with Saumur-Champigny suffering a late April frost). Late spring was barely better, with delayed flowering, sometimes as late as early July, accompanied by coulure (shatter) and millerandage (shot berries). Vouvray was hit by a severe hail storm on June 17th which destroyed two-thirds of its crop. July and August, by contrast, were hot and sunny, while September was generally benign, although more humid. The October harvest (late September in Muscadet) was the latest in two decades. Fair to good results were achieved by those white-wine producers who worked hard in the vineyards and sorted their crop, but it was a less exciting year for reds, and there were few late-harvest wines.|
|2012||Drink/Cellar||Troubled spring across region, cool & rainy, reducing yields severely, (1.9 million hl, well below 5-year average & 34% less than ’09). Good September weather rescued early-ripening varieties, sites. Rain & cold returned in October. Excellent Muscadet albeit drastically reduced crop: intensity, acid backbone; best will keep. Anjou-Saumur, Touraine Chenins picked in good conditions. Cabernets are supple, fruity & forward if rather light.|
|2011||Drink/Cellar||Promising start to season, less favorable later. Very early start to season, then cooler in mid-summer. Good Muscadet, successful Anjou Chenins secs. Early harvest in Centre, mostly picked by mid-September. Ripe Sauvignons often with lower acidities for early drinking. At best, mature Cabernets harvested as early as beginning of September in Chinon, Bourgueil; less maturity in poor locales.|
|2010||Drink/Cellar||Regular conditions. Season with contrasting hot & cool periods, irregular flowering & ripening by parcel. Muscadet with above average concentration & structure. Cabernet Franc of sound ripeness if picked late. Many Sauvignons have intensity, aromatic complexity. A year combining quality & above average quantity.|
|2009||Drink/Cellar||Dry from June through warm September. Very successful Muscadet, ripe Chenins in Anjou, Touraine. Hailstorms cut crop in Menetou-Salon, Sancerre. Sauvignons attained high sugars, sound acidity from cool September nights in Centre; last to be picked lack acidity. Fully mature Cabernet Franc, generous Chinon & other Touraine reds with flattering fruit qualities. Prolific vintage of 2.9 million hl.|
|2008||Drink||Cold summer, favorable September & October. Best wines harvested later & benefitted from long maturation. Concentrated whites will keep well. Fruity, fresh reds; weaker examples are not ripe. Reduced overall volume, decimated crop in Nantais (1/2 of 2009) due to frost.|
|2007||Drink||Difficult flowering, wet & cold summer, notably stormy August with low temperatures. Mildew a problem. Best whites are expressive, possess pointed acidity; some lack maturity. Best in Muscadet, Anjou. Many under-ripe, herbaceous reds; successes were harvested later.|
|2006||Drink||Good summer weather, rain in mid/late September complicated picking across region.best are ripe, full-bodied. Results hinged on skill & timing of vigneron, particularly picking dates.Muscadet suffered. Most Sauvignon in Centre brought in before storms;best are ripe, full-bodied. Results hinged on skill & timing of vigneron, particularly picking dates.|
|2005||Drink||Early harvest in benign conditions, consistently ripe & balanced wines. Concentrated whites with backbone, often very full-bodied. Reds even better, for many best of decade: fully mature, atypically dense, age-worthy.|
|2004||Drink||Favorable September, generous yields. Typical light- to medium-weight wines, sound maturities; most to drink early. Some examples were weak, green. Centre saw late harvesting extending into October producing etched Sauvignons with herbaceous notes.|
|2003||Drink||Earliest harvest since 1893 (e.g., starting 19 August in Nantais & Centre). Variable season, extremely hot August, grapes “burnt” by sun. Old vines fare better. Very high levels of maturity likened to 1959 or 1947. Reduced volumes. Rich Muscadet & Chenins. Full, ripe Sauvignon with unusually high alcohol lacked typicity. Many excellent reds: fruity, supple, fine tannins. Nearly all to drink young.|
|2002||Drink||Below normal harvest volume, uniform quality. Rainy August, warm & dry September/October. Muscadet endowed with rich fruit. Successful Chenins secs in Anjou-Saumur, Touraine. Appealing Chinon, Saumur-Champigny; some reds insufficiently ripe. Sauvignons in Centre possessed generous, ripe fruit.|
|2001||Past peak||Excellent flowering, high temperatures in summer. Muscadet performed well. In Anjou-Saumur, rich Chenins. High rainfall in Touraine, earlier harvest; wines reflect maturity similar to 2000. Solid reds. Mixed results for Sauvignons in Centre where rain & rot disrupted maturation.|
|2000||Past peak||Cool, wet July, hot June & August. Grapes picked before mid-October rains made successful wines. Rich, full-bodied Muscadet. Light Chenins in Anjou-Saumur & Touraine; Savennières above average. Ripe, balanced Sauvignons in Centre benefitted from favorable September. Soft, forward reds.|
|2012||Pending||Limited botrytis, minuscule yields of Bonnezeaux, Chaume, Quarts de Chaume.|
|2011||Drink/Cellar top wines||A year favoring Chenin with attractive moelleux in Coteaux du Layon.|
|2010||Drink/Cellar top wines||Anjou was able to produce good sweet wines in the Layon appellations. Touraine was less successful.|
|2009||Drink/Cellar top wines||Many remarkable wines in both Anjou & Touraine, among them Coteaux du Layon & Vouvray. A vintage to challenge 2005 as the best of the decade for moelleux.|
|2008||Drink/Cellar top wines||Very limited output of sweet wines. Some finely calibrated, rather light, elegant successes.|
|2007||Drink/Cellar top wines||Extremely small production of moelleux with some fine results among the Anjou Chenins.|
|2006||Drink||Below average wines with a handful of lighter, elegant, moderately sweet successes.|
|2005||Drink/Cellar top wines||A year in which the grapes experienced noble rot or desiccation through passerillage. Uniform quality. Wines with exquisite equilibrium in a diversity of styles. A great vintage, arguably best of the decade.|
|2004||Drink/Past peak||Light wines, absence of sweetness… with few exceptions.|
|2003||Drink/Cellar top wines||Opulence, density & sweetness. A minority miss sufficient backbone to offset richness. Cellar selectively after evaluating individually.|
|2002||Drink/Cellar top wines||Sweet wines resulted from desiccation of grapes on vine (passerillage). Wines possess real density with high sugar levels complemented by well-matched acidity.|
|2001||Drink top wines||Anjou Chenins were attractively sweet and stand above Touraine where Vouvray & Montlouis lack substance.|
|2000||Drink top wines||Simple, straightforward & delicately sweet wines without the concentration & dimension of finest years.|
Methodology: This report has been compiled utilizing multiple authoritative sources including regional trade associations, experts in each region, wine producers, academic studies, leading journalists, and the editor’s personal notes.
Acknowledgements: E. Gabay MW (Provence); Hugel family (Alsace); D. Markham (Bordeaux); K. McAuliffe (Rhône); M. Stubbs MW (Languedoc-Roussillon).
Editor’s comment: This chart is intended to serve as a reliable guide for professionals, educators and collectors. Judgments as to the quality, longevity and current maturity of a given vintage are by definition simplified assessments describing the average profile of the year. There will always be individual wines which surpass, or fail to reach, the overall standard, or which may have a shorter or longer life than their peers. Last, these evaluations are not fixed and permanent; rather, they will be revised as needed to reflect the wines as they age in bottle.
LEARN MORE ABOUT LOIRE VALLEY WINES:
PiedmontMay 19 - May 24, 2019
TuscanyMay 26 - May 31, 2019
BourgogneMay 19 - May 24, 2019
BourgogneJun 02 - Jun 07, 2019
ChampagneJun 11 - Jun 15, 2019
BordeauxJun 16 - Jun 21, 2019
LoireJun 23 - Jun 28, 2019
AlsaceOct 20 - Oct 25, 2019
ChampagneOct 28 - Nov 01, 2019
- PODCAST: Andrew Jefford on "Wine Education, Wine Writing, the Business of Wine, and a Fresh Look at the Loire"
- PODCAST: Pascaline Lepeltier MS's Loire with Andrew Jefford... really good schist!
- 16 of Pascaline's Top Producer Picks in the Loire Valley
- Wine and Food of the Loire Valley
- Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2016… A Fabulous Vintage !