2017 Loire Vintage now underway
The last week of August has seen the start of the 2017 vintage in the Loire. The Ban des Vendanges for Muscadet (the official start of the harvest) was on 30th August, while picking in Anjou-Saumur for sparkling wine started a couple of days earlier. Langlois-Chateau started picking their Pinot Noir on 28th August.
Although this is an early start – picking in August is still relatively rare in the Loire, 2017 is by no means the earliest vintage here. Since 1981 there have been six earlier starts for Muscadet with the heat wave year of 2003 holding the record with 19th August. This is probably a similar start time to the mythical 1893 vintage. The other early dates are 24th August – 2011, 25th August – 1989, 29th August – 1990, 1995 and 1997. In contrast 2013 was the latest recent start of the Muscadet harvest with the Ban des Vendanges issued on 23rd September.
Sancerre after harvest
In contrast 2013 saw the latest start to the harvest with, for instance, the Ban des Vendanges for Muscadet not being until 23rd September – amazingly nearly a month’s difference to the 2011 vintage two years before!
France’s Ministry of Agriculture estimates that the 2017 Loire vintage will be up by 7% on 2016 and in line with the average for the last five years. This will be of little comfort to producers badly hit by this year’s late April frosts and furthermore is little comfort overall as from 2012 there have been a series of short harvests.
For some Loire appellations there is very little stock. On 31st July 2017 Touraine Sauvignon only had four months of stock left. This means that some producers will be bottling some of their 2017 Touraine Sauvignon before the end of this year.
Although it is dangerous to make predictions about quality before the grapes are safely in the winery, the grapes are currently reported to be very healthy. Furthermore, early vintages normally make for good wine.