Reports from the Loire on the 2017 vintage
We spent Monday (11th September) and Tuesday (12th) in the Pays Nantais looking at the 2017 vintage. It is well known that the Pays Nantais was badly frosted in late April. The effects of the frost are, however, very variable. Some lucky producers like Jérémie Huchet (jeremie-huchet-vigneron.fr/en/) in Château-Thebaud only lost some 10%-15% of his crop. He did, however, lose 40% from frost last year. At the other end Fred Niger (domaine-ecu.com/) has lost 98% of his 2017 crop – making only three hectolitres per hectare.
Much of the crop has now been picked – Jéremie Huchet finished on Friday 8th September having started on 28th August. Jo Landon was finishing either on Tuesday or Wednesday. By Monday (11th) Lieubeau (www.lieubeau.com/en/) were three quarters through their harvest – down 40% due to frost – having started on 31st August.
There should be some very good Muscadet made this year, especially from vineyards not seriously frosted and from fruit picked early on as there was heavy rain on Sunday 3rd September. Following that downpour there is some rot appearing.
In heavily frosted vineyards heavily frosted the quality is more difficult as there is considerable variation in ripeness between the first generation grapes that resisted the frost and the second generation that came through after the frost.
Unfortunately there is no doubt a significant number of producers are facing challenging times commercially due to a lack of stock. To try to cope with this a number of producers have bought in juice allowing them to at least supply their existing clients.
Vincent Lacour (AC Touraine) on 2017 vintage
“Last year was a short vintage due to the frost and mildew and I made 700 hls,” Vincent Lacour explained on Friday afternoon when I dropped in to see him during my mountain bike ride through the local vineyards. “However, I doubt if I will even make that this year because of the April frosts. Also there is little juice in the grapes this year.”
It is not clear whether this is due to the dry weather in the early summer or whether bunches that appeared to survive the frost were actually affected and this damage reduced the amount of juice in the berries.
Fortunately the quality of the fermenting juice appears good – we tasted from a couple of vats – with good weight and very clean. Vincent has still to pick his Cabernet and Côt.