Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

14 Commentaires

Central Loire Vineyards – 1990 – 2017


1990 - 2017a

The last 27 years has seen very considerably changes in the Central Loire Vineyards. With one sole exception it has been a tale of success and expansion. It is fascinating to compare the area planted in each of the Central Loire appellation in 1990 with the area planted in 2017.

An overall increase of 2451 hectares in production – a 77% increase – are the headline figures. However, the dramatic revival of appellations such as Quincy and Reuilly that in the 1970s and for much of the 1980s are perhaps the most interesting. The revival of Reuilly owes much to the late Claude Lafond, who had the vision to persuade the few producers to work together and to establish a common wine-making facility above the small town of Reuilly. It was similar in neighbouring Quincy where a common winery was built at the village of Brinay. These wineries are different from a cave co-operative. Here the producers make with guidance, keep and sell their own wine themselves. The facilities are shared but not the wine.

Equally the expansion of Menetou-Salon up by nearly 200% from 196 hectares in 1990 to 576 ha last year is impressive. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé have seen the largest increase in terms of hectares – 1032 ha and 580ha respectively.

Pouilly-sur-Loire – 100% Chasselas – is the only appellation in decline: slipping from 56 hectares planted in 1990 to just 27 last year. Doubtless those lost hectares of Chasselas have been replanted with Sauvignon Blanc – Pouilly-Fumé is so much easier to sell.

The changes in the Central Loire are in marked contrast with the contraction in the area planted with Melon de Bourgogne for Muscadet in the Pays Nantais. In 1990 all the Muscadet appellations covered 11,280 hectares – this doesn’t include Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu which was promoted to appellation status in 1994. At its highest point Muscadet reached some 13300 hectares. By 2016 this area had dropped to a total of 8200 ha. Of these Muscadet Sèvre et Maine accounted for 6300 ha, Côtes de Grandlieu – 230 ha, Coteaux de la Loire – 150 ha.

Even with this sharp contraction Muscadet (820 ha) is still substantially larger than the whole of the Central Vineyard combined – 5750 hectares.


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Andrew Jefford on Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé – all things are not equal

The cross above Chavignol with 

the often present Sancerre in the distance


There is a very good post (Sancerre and friends) by Andrew Jefford on decanter.com today. Not a surprise that Andrew’s article is good. No the surprise is that this is the first time that such a long established wine writer has visited Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and the other Central Loire appellations. Andrew has been covering wine for over 30 years now and starting before areas like Argentina, Australia, Chile and South Africa have risen to prominence.

Whatever – it is clear from  Andrew’s photos that he visited Sancerre during the autumn. Hopefully he enjoyed the often magnificent show of autumn colours that this most picturesque and spectacular Loire provides. 

As ever Andrew’s observations are acute noting that good whites from here do not have the obvious Sauvignon Blanc characteristics, the differences in terroir between Pouilly and Sancerre as well as the Kimmeridgian Crescent that starts in Champagne passes through Pouilly, Sancerre, Menetou-Salon and is below ground by the time it reaches Quincy. 

The differences between Sancerre and Pouilly? Taste-wise not at all easy. I suspect in a blend tasting it would be more down to pot luck for me.  The differences that are most apparent are geographical and topographical. Sancerre clearly has a bigger area that is suitable for vines. More importantly, I think, it has in the town of Sancerre a real focus and centre that Pouilly sorly lacks. A very significant proportion of Appellation Sancerre faces Sancerre town. 

In contrast the vineyards of Pouilly run north to south. This probably wouldn’t matter if the appellation had a recognisable centre. After all Burgundy’s Côte d’Or also runs north to south but has lively Beaune to provide a focus for both the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune. Pouilly-sur-Loire is very sadly moribund and increasingly so. This is in very stark contrast to the lively and thriving town of Sancerre. The glory days of Pouilly-sur-Loire, when it was a staging post on the Route Nationale 7 – the road southwards to the sunshine and immortalised by Charles Trenet – are very long gone.

Pouilly-sur-Loire suffers from the curse of the Autoroute 77, which by-passes the town, and has gradually drained away its lifeblood. My guess is that most residents do their shopping in supermarkets of Cosne or in La Charité. 

Sancerre has also been blessed with a series of dynamic producers and leaders, who from the 1950s have traveled to sell their wines. Initially to Paris and then more recently around the globe. These include the Mellots, the Bourgeois, Vacherons, Jean-Max Roger, Vincent Pinard and others

Once again, in contrast, Pouilly has few obvious leaders. Certainly the late Didier Dagueneau had a strong personality with equally strong views but was really a rebel with a cause – as likely to chastise his colleagues as to lead them. Baron Patrick de Ladoucette is Pouilly’s leading producer in terms of vines planted. He appears a distant aristocratic figure. In just under 30 years I have met him once – a rather strained visit and meeting with the great man at Château de Nozet.     

It is surely significant that when the Bureau du Central Loire was founded, Pouilly preferred for a number of years not to join the organisation. The Pouilly producers have, however, got together for their wine centre – La Tour du Pouilly-Fumé. Sancerre has its Maison des Sancerre.

Finally in the Anglophone world Sancerre is much easier to pronounce than Pouilly-Fumé.


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