The last of the 2016 Pinot Noir arriving at
Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Chavignol (AC Sancerre)
Carefully tipping the Pinot Noir onto the sorting table
@Domaine Vincent Delaporte
Cabernet Franc on Mi-Pente,
Domaine de la Butte, Bourgueil
The universal refrain throughout the Loire is that 2016 is ‘a very complicated year’ – late April frost, poor flowering for some varieties, lot of mildew and then drought and heat in July and August. 2016 has been a natural lottery with clear winners and losers. There are those who have had the good luck to have escaped nature’s ravages and those who have lost and been left with nothing.
I do not recall another Loire vintage where there has been such a stark contrast between those who have ended up with an excellent harvest both in quality and quantity and those who have nothing at all or virtually nothing. It is not a question of one part of the Loire that has suffered more than others. Instead it is really a mixture.
Bourgueil and Chinon were badly hit by the frost and then by the other plagues that nature inflicted this year. Many on the gravel vineyards are harvesting perhaps 4 hl/ha sometimes less. Whereas walking up through the vines of Domaine de la Butte on Friday the Cab Franc looked good and if not plentiful and decent crop by volume. I gather there is an abundance of grapes in the vineyards of Pierre-Jacques Druet – now controlled by Ampelidae. This has been down to good fortune as Ampelidae didn’t take control until the 1st April, so the vines were pruned late and budding was delayed so missed the destructive frost at the end of April.
The difference in the Central Vineyards, where we are making a brief visit, is extraordinarily stark. In Sancerre many of the vignerons are ecstatic over the quality of the 2016 vintage. « The Sancerre reds are exceptional » said Alphonse Mellot Jr. « 28 hl/ha (normal for the Mellot reds) and around 14% potential and 4.5 acidity. I’m not sure at the moment about the exact yield for the whites but around 50-55 hl/ha with potential degrees varying between 12%-14%. However, at Les Pénitents (Côtes de la Charité) that was hit by frost we have only made 6 hl/ha for the whites (100% Chardonnay) and just 4 hl/ha for the Pinot Noir. »
We saw several Sancerre producers yesterday – Henry Natter, Benoît and Paul Fouassier, Adélaïde and Vincent Grall and Jean-Yves Delaporte, Natalie (his wife) and Matthieu – they were all very pleased with 2016. In contrast the Fouassier cousins reported that Philippe Gilbert, an excellent producer in Menetou-Salon, which was hit badly by the April frost has only harvested between 4/5 hl/ha.
Truly the agony and the ecstasy!
2016 Sauvignon Blanc at Henry Natter, Montigny (AC Sancerre)