Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

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Lunch in the footsteps of Henry James

Le Bon Laboureur – long established and easily
the best restaurant and hotel
in the popular village of Chenonceaux 

On our last Monday at the end of our recent stay in the Loire we spoiled ourselves by lunching at Le Bon Laboureur in Chenonceaux. Here we were following in the footsteps of the writer Henry James, who was born in America but who spent much of the latter part of his life in Europe. In his Little Tour in France James describes a very comfortable and congenial meal, in his case dinner, he and his companions enjoyed at Le Bon Laboureur:

A Little Tour in France by Henry James
(originally published as a serial in 1883-1884)

Chapter 7


Here are two extracts that feature Le Bon Laboureur as it was towards the end of the 19th Century

Extract 1:
‘In going from Tours you leave the valley of the Loire and enter that of the Cher, and at the end of about an hour you see the turrets of the castle on your right, among the trees, down in the meadows, beside the quiet little river. The station and the village are about ten minutes’ walk from the château, and the village contains a very tidy inn, where, if you are not in too great a hurry to commune with the shades of the royal favourite and the jealous queen, you will perhaps stop and order a dinner to be ready for you in the evening.’

In between this extract and the one below Henry James describes his visit the Château de Chenonceaux. He spells both the village and the château ending in an x. Today the château is written without an x. Although one might be inclined to think that James made an error in adding an x to the château this may not be the case as some of the pictures showing the château in the past use an x in the spelling.

Wikipedia, as opposed to Wikileaks, suggests that it was Louise Dupin de Francueil, the château’s owner during the French Revolution, who dropped the x in order to show that the château was royal. Apparently there are no official papers to confirm this story. However, James was writing years after the Revolution.

Anyway it strikes me as rather strange that in revolutionary times you would want to stress a building’s royal pedigree. Instead it seems to me much more logical and more prudent not to draw attention to your splendid château spanning the Cher in case marauding revolutionaries either set up camp there or razed the building to the ground. Anyway what do I know for Chenonceau, however it was spelled, survived the Revolution unscathed. 


The church in neighbouring Francueil

Extract 2:
‘Venice a year and a half before. We took our way back to the Bon Laboureur, and waited in the little inn-parlour for a late train to Tours. We were not impatient, for we had an excellent dinner to occupy us; and even after we had dined we were still content to sit awhile and exchange remarks upon the superior civilisation of France. Where else, at a village inn, should we have fared so well? Where else should we have sat down to our refreshment without condescension? There were a couple of countries in which it would not have been happy for us to arrive hungry, on a Sunday evening, at so modest an hostelry. At the little inn at Chenonceaux the cuisine was not only excellent, but the service was graceful. We were waited on by mademoiselle and her mamma; it was so that mademoiselle alluded to the elder lady as she uncorked for us a bottle of Vouvray mousseux. We were very comfortable, very genial; we even went so far as to say to each other that Vouvray mousseux was a delightful wine. From this opinion indeed one of our trio differed; but this member of the party had already exposed herself to the charge of being too fastidious by declining to descend from the carriage at Chaumont and take that back-stairs view of the castle.’


Back in February we three were certainly ‘very comfortable’, ‘very genial’ and ‘the cuisine was not only excellent, but the service (led by Fabrice and his team) was graceful’. I’m not sure that James’ ‘so modest an hostelry’ is still apt. The 21st century Le Bon Laboureur is very comfortable with an airy and light dining room. There was a time was it was a little dark and gloomy but that has long gone. It is true, however, the building is modest in comparison to Touraine’s grand châteaux hotels like Artigny and La Rochecotte  but Le Laboureur has a Michelin star and they don’t.

We chose the Menu du Marché, which is available only at lunchtime and not on Sunday. At 32€ for three fine listed courses it is excellent value, especially by the time you add in all the extra treats – canapés, mise en bouche, pre-dessert et mignardises – it is more like eight or nine courses!

IMG_3290   Excellent 2010 100% Côt (outside Touraine sometimes called Malbec)
from Domaine de la Chapinière, AC Touraine


2010 Touraine Côt, Domaine de la Chapinière

First courses:

IMG_3308Tartine de légumes, magret fumé, faisselle de chèvre

IMG_3311Velouté de lentilles, champignons & lardons

Main course:

IMG_3312Epaule d’agneau confite 72 heures, jus d’agneau et crème d’ail


IMG_3316Praliné-chocolat, crème Amaretto

IMG_3319Gratin aux agrumes & ananas, sorbet orange sanguine



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2016 Loire – to have and have not


Sancerre town rises above the mist – viewed from the Côte des Monts Damnés


Layers of mist highlighting the main road from Sancerre to Bourges – the line of trees

Today I am am following on from last week’s post The Agony & the Ecstasy covering the nearly two days we spent in Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and briefly Menetou-Salon early last week.

If there is any Loire appellation that could stand a difficult and virtually non-existent vintage, it is Sancerre. Instead, if there is any substantial Ligerian appellation that has come through this ‘very complicated year’ relatively unscathed it is Sancerre. Indeed there appear to be a good number of Sancerre producers who have enjoyed a normal to bumper crop in 2016.

« It’s almost scandalous! » admitted Philippe Prieur of Domaine Paul Prieur in Verdigny.

Sancerre – the haves:


Paul and Benoît Fouassier
We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on the 14th. Our Sauvignon Blanc was hit by frost, coulure and then the drought with a significant amount of these grapes burnt by the heat of July and August. We haven’t fully calculated the yields yet but it is between 30hl-40hl per ha for Sauvignon Blanc with the fruit between 12-13 potential alcohol with acidity varying from 4.5- 4.8. The acidity levels are higher than 2015 but lower than 2014.

The Pinot Noir fared better both at flowering and from the heat of the summer, so yields of 42 hl/ha and 13.5% potential alc.

Henry Natter (Montigny)
Unlike many other Sancerre producers who had finished or were just finishing, Henry Natter was in the middle of picking but well satisfied with the quantity and quality of the 2016 vintage. Often one of the last in the appellation to picky Natter still had another five days of harvest to do.

Vincent and Adélaïde Grall (Sancerre)
The Gralls were decidedly happy with 2016. Vincent: « We finished last Wednesday (12th October) having started on the 3rd October. Our Sauvignon is between 11.5-12.5. Following the rain towards the end of September the grapes have plenty of juice, so we have made 65 hl/ha.

Alphonse Mellot (Sancerre)
Alphonse Mellot jnr: « We finished last Friday (14th). The Sancerre reds are exceptional – 14% potential alcohol and between 4.5-5 acidity with a yield of 28 hl/ha. » This is not low for the Mellot reds as low Pinot Nor yields are customary here.  « The whites are between 12%-14% alc with yields between 50-55 hl/ha. However, it is a very different story for the Mellot vineyards in the Côte de la Charité, which were hit by the April frosts. « For the Chardonnay it is 6 hl/ha, while for the Pinot Noir we picked just 4 hl/ha. »

Matthieu and Jean-Yves Delaporte, Domaine Vincent Delaporte (Chavignol)
I caught up with Matthieu and his father Jean-Yves early on Monday evening when they were finshing sorting over their last cases of Pinot Noir. Both were well pleased with the 2016 – 60hl/ha for the whites and 50 hl/ha for the reds.

Pierre Martin (Chavignol) 
« It’s a good vintage. We started on Wednesday 5th October and finished yesterday (17th October). The rain in mid to end of September was crucial after the long dry spell in July, August and early September. Our Sauvignon Blanc is between 12-13% potential alc and 4-4.3 acidity, while the Pinot Noir is at 13% potential. Yields are between 55-60 hl/ha.

Gérard Boulay (Chavignol)
Gérard was also happy  with 2016. « We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on Sunday 16th. Our white Sancerre is between 12%-13.5%, while the Pinot is at 13.5%. There is a lot of tartaric acid this year – the recent fresh nights have been good for maintaining acidity. Yields are between 45/50 hl/ha. The Cul de Beaujeu is particularly good. »

Domaine Paul Prieur (Verdigny)
Luc Prieur: « We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on Friday 14th. » Luc is very happy with the quality of 2016. « Our Sauvignon came in at between 12%-12.5% potential and 4.7 to 5 acidity with a yield between 55-60 hl/ha, while the Pinot is at 13.6%-14% and 50 hl/ha. Some of our Pinot suffered from mildew and sunburn during the heat of July and August.

François Crochet (Bué)
François and Karine Crochet are also very happy with their 2016. François: « We started on Friday 30th September having got special permission to start early. Yields for the Sauvignon are between 45-50 hl with a potential around 12% and 5 gms acidity. We had to pick our Pinot twice as grapes facing south got burnt by the sun. We picked these first to make rosé. These grapes came in at 13.3%. The rest we picked a little later for our Sancerre Rouge and were up to 14% potential. The Pinot yield is around 35-40 hl/ha. »

François likens 2016 to the 2014s, while a number of other Sancerre producers put 2016 between 2014 and 2015 in style, so having some of the richness of 2015 but more acidity than 15 and less than 14. Certainly the juices that I tasted appeared promising – clean, mouth-filling with a freshness in the finish.



The have nots


Above Les Loges, Pouilly-Fumé 


Jonathan Pabiot (Les Loges, Pouilly-sur-Loire)
« Overall we lost 65% of the crop including all of our Chasselas. We started on Monday 3rd October and finished on 13th. The communes of Saint Martin, Saint-Laurent and to the south of Pouilly-sur-Loire – the southern part of the appellation – was particularly badly hit by the frost. In some of our parcels where we normally harvest 50 hl/ha we only managed 5 hl/ha, while in the commune of Tracy we picked 35hl/ha. Fortunately our best parcels escaped the frost. »

Michel Redde et Fils (Pouilly-sur-Loire)
Sébastien Redde: « It has been a very complicated year. Of our 42 hectares, 10ha have recorded a total loss – no more than 2 ha/ha, 5 hectares were hit between 20%-50% by the frost here we averaged 15 hl/ha.  After the April frosts the mildew ravaged two hectares with a 90% loss. Overall we have made 30 hl/ha but the quality is good.

Masson-Blondelet (Pouilly-sur-Loire)
Pierre-François Masson: « Some of our Pouilly-Fumé parcels were badly hit. In those in the commune of St Martin we only picked 7.5 hl/ha and the same for those in Pouilly. However, our vines in Saint-Andelain were not hit by the frost. We are happy with what we picked in Sancerre – 45 hl/ha, while for the Pinot it was down – 25 hl/ha compared to around 40 hl/ha in a normal year. Unfortunately we will have to restrict allocations. »


Domaine Philippe Gilbert
Menetou-Salon is among the worst hit by the April frost of the Loire appellations and Philippe Gilbert is no exception. « In a normal vintage we make 500hl of both red and white, so 1000 hls. This year we have 17 hls of rosé, between 60-70 hls of red and between 60 – 68 hls of white. » This adds up to around 150-160 hls in 2016. – 15% of a normal year. » The fact that the quality in 2016 is high must, of course, be particularly galling.

Philippe will not be going to Millésime Bio in January 2017. « There is no point in me going just to explain that I have no wine to sell! » he says.


Today we cross La Manche and return to to Madame May’s lunatic asylum – no further comment required!


1 commentaire

2016 Vignes, Vins Randos + 53 YO Viña Sol

It is that time of year again – Vignes, Vins, Randos 2016 is on this coming weekend Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September. Full details here

Unfortunately I have never been in the Loire recently in time for Vignes, Vins, Randos, which is a pity as I have friends who speak highly of these events. Instead I tend to come to the Loire a week or so later for the harvest.  


This year’s Randos from West to East:
Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine La Haye-Fouassière
Coteaux d’Ancenis
Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru/Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume
Anjou Villages Brissac
Coteaux de l’Aubance
Saumur Brut Fines Bulles
Saumur Champigny
Touraine Azay-le-Rideaux
Jasnières/Coteaux du Loir 


53 Year Old – Viña Sol

IMG_2105Loch Garry, Scotland

When it is not raining the Scottish Highlands are magnificent. We have spent all of August in Newtonmore, apart from a Noah’s ark expedition to saturated Islay. There is, however, one drawback here – a limited selection of wine available in the local villages with the Co-op supermarket being the nearest source.


This isn’t entirely a drawback as it is an opportunity to try wines that we don’t often drink. The 2015 Viña Sol from Torres is a prime example. We have enjoyed several bottles of this Torres classic that was launched in 1962, so the 2015 is the 53rd vintage. Made from a blend of Parallada and Granacha Blanca, the 15 is an attractive combination of ripe fruit with clean fresh finish at 11.5% Very well made the Viña Sol is particularly good value at its current co-op price of £4.99 – £2 off the listed price.


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Petition to cancel 2nd half of 2016


Devastation in a Loire vineyard after frost of 27th April 2016


Source: BBC

Thursday 23rd Sterling @ 1.30 to Euro – 27.6 Sterling @ 1.97€
B. Johnson MP – « The pound has stablised. » 

We are now nearly half way through 2016, which is proving to date truly a year to forget.

During the first six months we have been showered with frost, hail, floods in Paris and the Loire, rampant mildew and now that small island just off Calais last Thursday decided to declare UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) from the rather larger continent.

The negatives so far: frost in the Loire, Chablis and other parts of Burgundy in late April. Hail too then and further hail in late May hitting Chablis and Cognac and again last weekend hitting Beaujolais, especially Moulin à Vent, and parts of the Côte Roannaise.

Mildew is now a big problem in the Loire and a big threat in the vineyards of Jerez – probably in other European vineyards. Furthermore flowering in the Loire and elsewhere may well have been hit by the recent cold wet weather. Frost had already wiped out about a third of the Loire’s 2016 grape harvest, I fear that the vintage will be further reduced by poor fruit set.

Away from wine and the vineyards the news certainly no better. Starting with threatened Exit from the EU – will the next Prime Minister actually push the divorce button if sterling and the UK stock market continues their falls and financial jobs move from London to Frankfurt and elsewhere in the EU?  The passions raised by this entirely unnecessary referendum probably prompted the assassination of MP Jo Cox.

Even more worrying Trump is the presumed Republican candidate to be the next President of the United States. The gun slaughter continues in the US with the appalling Orlando slaughter only the worst shooting.

I could go on but this is depressing enough, so on a very positive note I will shortly be launching a petition to cancel the second half of 2016 and move immediately to 2017 so we can make a fresh start.






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A week in Touraine

The D81 at Epeigné-les-Bois mid-morning on Tuesday 30th May 2016
After nearly 200mm of rain in 48 hours le plan d’eau burst
and flowed over the road.

Weatherwise 2016 has been far from kind to the Loire. The winter was very mild and this was followed by a cold March and April. In the latter part of April there were a series of frosts – especially in the early morning of 27th April. Although overall the 2016 frosts have not been as devastating as those of 1991, many vignerons have been very badly hit. Those, who have only lost 10%-20% of their crop, are counting themselves as lucky.

Sunday 29th May saw the start of the deluge here in the Cher Valley. The amount of rain increased as you went further east into Touraine. In Tours, for instance, it was dry on the Sunday for the annual VitiLoire, which finished at 6pm before the rain started to fall.By which time Loches had already been flooded with landslips and walls falling due to the intensity of the rain.

Incidentally the two-day VitiLoire attracted a record 40,000 visitors making it a marvellous shop window for Loire wines. This makes it even more inexplicable and short-sighted that a few producers choose not to attend in person instead sending someone in their place. On the Saturday (28th) I visited one stand where the person standing in only had a sheet of technical details as a guide and was unable to answer questions. What a missed opportunity!

Here in Epeigné-les-Bois it rained heavily and pretty continuous from Sunday early afternoon through to mid-afternoon on Tuesday. By Monday our neighbour’s low lying garden had started to flood and by Tuesday 10am the water meadows by our stream – the Chezelles – had been engulfed by water.

Vegetable garden washed away for the force of the water

The Chezelles is only a small stream and drains just a small area, so although the floods were spectacular on Tuesday by Wednesday the waters had very considerably abated. However, the drama in Cher and other main Loire rivers was only just starting as draining a much larger area the river levels didn’t peak until several days later. Around Villandry , west of Tours, the peak for the Cher was Sunday afternoon (5th June). Ironically, of course, some of the towns downstream on the Cher have been seriously flooded by rain that fell upstream, while they had less of a deluge.

As far as I know few vineyards have been flooded, although there are reports of flooded vineyards in Chinon close to the Vienne. However, the heavy rain means it is difficult or impossible to get into the vineyards to spray against mildew. Fortunately until now it has remained cold but this week sees temperatures rising, so the threat of mildew will increase as everything is still very humid.       

Lock house on the Cher just west of Château de Chenonceau

IMG_1507Flooding across the Cher Valley at Montrichard, where the
Cher burst its banks and flooded part of the town

The D81 becomes a stream between Francueil and Chisseaux (Friday 3rd June 2016)
Between Montrichard and Bléré – all the crossings of the Cher were flooded 


Frost damage
It is now well over a month since the big frost and from a distance many of the vines look OK with green shoots pushing upwards. However, close inspection shows that in the frost affected vineyards this growth is coming from the trunk with very little in the way of potential bunches, while most of the buds on the cane are shrivelled and dead.

On a superficial glance from a distance all looks OK….



On closer inspection the frost damage is clear with
only the occasional bud surviving on a cane
(Vines in Ingrandes-de-Touraine)





Café de la Promenade – Nora and Samuel in charge
Les 5 du Vin spent an excellent weekend in early June 2012 staying at Café de la Promenade in Bourgueil, which was then run by Ludo and Sophie Ragot. It rapidly became one of David’s country homes.

During Saturday’s Bourgueillothérapie we dropped into Café de la Promenade now run since the beginning of April by its new owners – Nora and Samuel. The Café now has cleaner lines and is brighter following a new coat of paint.
The Café is open from Tuesday to Sunday lunchtime, except for July and August when it is open seven days a week. There are five rooms for those wanting bed and breakfast. Samuel is the chef, while Nora is front of house.
We haven’t yet had a chance to eat there but hope to soon put this right.  Reports are very positive as are recent comments on Trip Advisor.
JimVitLoire-Benoît Gautier






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The frost report – Loire May 2016


 Vineyard by Chenonceaux railway station 

many of the vines have no growth on them looks like mid-winter 


Speaking to producers at Vitiloire on Saturday it was possible to get a little clearer picture of the effects of this year’s frosts at the end of April. Although the night of 26th/27th April saw the worst frost there were a succession of frosts from the 17th/18th April through to the end of the month

Jean-Pierre Gouvazé of InterLoire told me that 70% of this year’s crop remained. This reinforces that the April 2016 frosts are not at the same destructive overall level as 1991, when the Loire made only a third of normal. However, some appellations and their producers have been very seriously hit to the extent they have virtually lost their crop. This year the picture is much more variable than it was in 1991. 

Overall it would seem that Anjou was not badly hit. Victor Lebreton (Domaine de Montgilet (Juigné-sur-Loire) said that his loss was around 10% and that the northern part of Anjou around Brisssac-Quince had not been badly affected. However, parts of the Layon, for example Champs-sur-Layon and Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, had been more affected.  

In Saumur Philippe Elliau, Domaine de la Fuye in Le Puy Notre Dame, told me that this part of Saumur had not been affected. In Saumur-Champigny the damage is more significant around Varrains, Chacé and Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg than in the communes, like Parnay, along the Loire.   

There was further confirmation that a substantial part of Bourgueil, Chinon and Saint Nicolas-de-Bourgueil were very badly affected, especially the flatter parts like the gravel vineyards of Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas as well as Cravant-les-Coteaux and Panzoult in AC Chinon. Whereas Bertrand Couly (Pierre et Bertrand Couly) told me that with their vines around Chinon they had escaped. 

On the south side of the Vienne Ligré Eric Santier (Domaine Dozon, AC Chinon) told me that there was little damage – 10% or less. 

Vineyards around ParcayMeslay in Vouvray were also serious affected, although overall Vouvray seems to have been less affected than Montlouis, where the damage is worst in the southern part of the appellation around Saint-Martin-le-Beau.  

In the Cher damage is again irregular with some severe damage on the north side of the valley around Chenonceaux and Civray-en-Touraine – see photo of vineyard close to Chenonceaux at the beginning of this post. 

Variable damage in the vineyards of Saint-Georges-sur-Cher:   


St Georges-sur-Cher: Vineyard, in a lower part of Saint Georges
that looks to have suffered some damage 



St Georges-sur-Cher: vineyard up the plateau well above the village

unaffected by the frosts 

Further east in the Cher Valley Jérôme Sauvète in Monthou was hit, while Joël Delaunay at La Tesnière, Pouillé wasn’t affected at all.

Benoît Roumet, director of Les Vins du Centre Loire, confirmed that Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon and parts of Pouilly-Fumé had been badly hit. Quincy was less so, especially where they had wind machines installed, while Châteaumeillant had not been affected because budbreak is later here. 

Philippe Boucard (Lamé Delisle Boucard) said for those hit badly it will be complicated to buy in grapes unless they have a ‘carte de négoce‘ as a recent decision by the Conseil d’Etat upheld the demand by the négoce that grapes can only be bought by holders of a carte de négoce.

Unfortunately the bad weather news isn’t over as there is now the threat of hail with very unstable conditions around as May bows out. Romain Paire, Domaine des Pothiers in the Côte Roannaise, was hit by hail on Saturday morning (28th May) as were parts of Chablis and Saint-Bris.          

JimVitLoire-Benoît Gautier
Photo by Benoît Gautier

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27/4/2016 – une journée noire


La nature est parfois difficile avec ceux qui pour autant l’aiment encore.
Exemple confirmé à La Charpenterie.
Photo Sabrina Cyprien Caslot-Bourdin
près de La Chapelle-sur-Loire 

(Photo taken from a post by Sabrina Cyprien Caslot-Bourdin.
I hope my use of her very sad photo will be acceptable.) 


A severe Spring frost is a vigneron’s worst nightmare. Sadly frost struck in the Loire, Chablis and elsewhere in Burgundy as well as Champagne in the early hours of Wednesday 27th April. For those severely hit it must be truly horrible to know that there will there will be no harvest this year!

The signs for 2016 were not good – 13 moons and two horrible anniversaries: the February frost of 1956 – 60 years ago and the April frost of 1991 – 25 years ago.

Parts of the Loire were very severely hit by frost during the night of Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th.  Temperatures in a few places fell as low as – 6˚C.

As in April 1991 a lethal combination of damp ground from recent rain, clear overnight skies, very low temperatures in the latter part of the night followed by bright early morning sunshine has virtually destroyed the 2016 vintage in some sectors of the Loire.

Although it is too early to know the full extent of the damage some parts of the Loire have been very badly hit. The worst hit areas appear to be Bourgueil, Montlouis, Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, Azay le Rideau and Touraine Noble. The important communes of Cravant-les-Coteaux and Panzoult in AOP Chinon are reported also badly affected.

Couly Dutheil, whose vines are mostly in the more western part of the Chinon appellation, reports that 20 hectares of their 90 are affected. In Ligré Jérôme Billard (Domaine de la Noblaie) finds that 20% of his vines have been affected by the frost. Mainly those less good parcels parcels that Jérôme reserves for his rosé. Here the damage is as high as 60%, while in his best parcels of Cabernet Franc for his reds only 10% of the vines appear to have been hit.

Guillaume Lapaque, director of FAV37*, told Decanter: “Noble Joué has lost 94% of this harvest, 70% in Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and 50% in Chinon. Overall Appellation Touraine has been much less affected.”

Sabine Corsin, Syndicat de Montlouis reported a 90% loss in Saint-Martin-le-Beau with 50% loss in the appellation’s other two communes. Losses in Vouvray are reported to be less overall and more variable.

Jacky Blot (Domaine de la Taille aux Loups – Montlouis, Vouvray) expects to make 25% of normal if all goes well from here. In contrast the outlook is more optimistic for his Domaine de la Butte (Bourgueil). Here the loss is 20% essentially Pied de la Butte on the flatter ground. The rest of the vines on the steep slope are intact.

In Saumur-Champigny the communes of Chacé, Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg and Varrains have been badly hit. Closer to the Loire damage is much less. “We have lost 10%,” said Florence Chevallier (Château de Villeneuve).

“We have been very badly hit in our vineyards which are close to the River Layon,” said Emmanuel Ogereau (Domaine Ogereau, Anjou). However, we have no damage in Savennières where our vines are on high ground.”

The picture in the Pays Nantais appears to be very variable. Domaine Luneau-Papin (Muscadet) has suffered damage in some parcels, while others haven’t been touched.

“A third of my vines have been badly hit with up to 100% loss in some parcels, one third slightly affected and one third not touched at all,” said Vincent Caillé, Domaine Faye d’Homme (Muscadet). However, fans of Vincent and Christelle Guibert’s Terre d’Gneiss will be relieved that this boutique parcel was spared.

In the Central Loire Vineyards Benoît Roumet, the director of Les Vins du Centre, reports that Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy and Reuilly have all been hit to a greater of lesser degree. Sancerre, in contrast, has largely escaped. However, Roumet cautions that things will be clearer next week.

Although this April frost may not be as extensive as that of 1991, wine stocks would have been much higher after the very good and generous 1990 vintage. Now stocks are low after four small to below average vintages. On top of that you have to factor in the current annual loss from esca, which was not a factor back in 1991. Esca is not only one of the reasons why yields are lower than expected but there is also the constant cost of replacing dead vines.

Negotiations with government and banks to help to see badly hit producers through this crisis will start next week.


Photo from Pierre & Bertrand Couly