Les 5 du Vin

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Central Loire Vineyards – 1990 – 2017

CrossSancerres

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.

 

Visit to FilipaP

 

 


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Central Loire Vineyards: forthcoming events

Events: 14th August to 9th September 2017 

Plenty of events here for the diaries of those of you in the Central Loire vineyards for the next month or so. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibitions:

 

NouveauOs


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2015 – it’s all starting to kick off in the Loire!

Picking in Sancerre September 2009

Picking in Sancerre late September 2009

The 2015 Loire vintage is now underway and is likely to continue at least until the middle or end of October. It is certainly quite an early start – not as early as 2011 when some Touraine producers, such as the Clos Roche Blanche, started in late August. Nor as early as 2003 when Reuilly was picking by around 20th August. But it is certainly the earliest since 2011 and unusually everything seems to be starting around the same time.

The Ban des Vendanges for Pinot Gris in Reuilly was last Friday, while for Quincy it was yesterday, Sancerre/Pouilly will be this Wednesday. Often there can be a week to 10 days between the start in Reuilly/Quincy and Sancerre beginning. Not so in 2015 – everything seems to be more telescoped!

Here is a report received yesterday from Charles Sydney, a courtier en vin based in Chinon:

‘Phil and I were out in the Touraine on Thursday – growers were picking some of the earlier ripening parcels in Noyers, Oisly and Cheverny, so I guess elsewhere too.

Philippe Trotignon’s cahier shows 4 trailers coming in between 12 and 12.7° potential with acidity around 5 grams – definitely time to pick 🙂

Only problem is the lack of grapes in the vineyards, at least for Sauvignons in the Touraine – Muscadet and Anjou look better fortunately. It’s some time since we’ve seen such small grapes on such small bunches. That’s down to those few chilly days pre-Vinexpo, just at the end of harvest.

Some growers are starting in Muscadet this week but most are waiting – while others in Sancerre and Pouilly are starting! Le monde à l’envers !’

Fingers crossed for a month or more of sunshine!’

Further west picking of the Chardonnay for Crémant de Loire and Saumur Mousseux started yesterday around Le Puy Notre Dame. See here.

In Muscadet Domaine de l’Ecu and Luneau-Papin will be starting this week. Normally they would be considerably in advance of Sancerre.

Emmanuel Ogereau (October 2014)

Emmanuel Ogereau (October 2014)

From Anjou – Emmanuel Ogereau (Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay):

‘Les vendanges se préparent très bien en Anjou.

Les vignes ont très bien résisté à la sécheresse au mois de Juillet. Les pluies du mois d’Août leur ont fait le plus grand bien.

Les Chenins sont très jolis pour le moment. Ils sont très goutés et les peaux sont déjà assez fines.

On pourrait donc vendanger assez rapidement. Les vendanges pourraient débuter autour du lundi 21 septembre. A voir comment ça évolue…

On espère que le temps sec et frais de ces derniers jours va se maintenir le plus longtemps possible. On croise les doigts.

Pour les Cabernet, on a le temps. Pas de vendanges avant le mois d’octobre.

On est impatients de vendanger notre vignoble de la Martinière à Quarts de Chaume pour la première fois.’

Due to various commitments we are unable to get out to the Loire until 16th September. It goes without saying we are impatient to get out and see what is happening first hand!

Reflecting on Chenonceau

Reflecting on Chenonceau


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The success of Sancerre

Sancerre from the west.

Sancerre from the west.

A week yesterday my co-Cinq colleague David Cobbold reported on a tasting of wines from the Loire’s Central Vineyards. He suggested that Sancerre producers were perhaps resting on their laurels and that the size of the Central Vineyard appellations corresponded to their success.

No doubt there are producers in Sancerre who sit on the appellation’s current reputation but this is far from true for the leading lights, who are constantly looking to improve their wines both through work in the vineyards and investment in equipment in the wineries. Anyone who wants to see the latest winery equipment used in the Loire heads to Sancerre. Unlike some wineries in Italy, parts of Spain, Napa or Chile you won’t find here modern day wine cathedrals designed at great expense to highlight the owners’ deep pockets. In Sancerre and elsewhere in the Central Vineyards there is happily a marked absence of bling. Here wineries are functional. Producers, like Alphonse Mellot and the Vacheron family, in the town of Sancerre itself are naturally constrained by the narrow streets, tightly packed houses and steep slopes. This also used to be the case in Chavignol but recently there has been a trend for some producers, for instance Gérard Boulay and Thomas-Labaille to build new wineries outside the Sancerre’s capital city, especially on the road between Chavignol and Saint-Satur. Even with greater space available these are functional buildings as is the new dairy built by Rians after they acquired the historic Crottin cheese maker – Dubois-Boulay.

Part of the Henri Bourgeois winery above Chavignol.

Part of the Henri Bourgeois winery above Chavignol.

The ever-expanding Henri Bourgeois winery must the most spectacular development in the region. When I first visited the domaine in October 1989 they had a relatively small winery next to Chavignol’s church. The original winery is still there but its has expanded very considerably up the hill. Again the buildings are functional and designed for easy working. Of course there is expensive kit inside but there for a purpose. The new arrangements for receiving and selecting their Pinot Noir grapes are coming through in the wines.

The Joulin celebrating the 2014 vintage.

The Joulin celebrating the 2014 vintage.

During my brief stay in Sancerre in April I visited three producers – Pascal Joulin (Domaine Michel Vattan) in Maimbray, Clément Pinard (Domaine Vincent Pinard) in Bué and Arnaud Bourgeois (Henri Bourgeois) in Chavignol. I largely concentrated on tasting the 2014s, which is a very good vintage here and was confirmed by my visits. What was impressive was the determination of all three to continue to improve the quality of their wines. At Domaine Vincent Pinard, for instance, the top cuvée of their Pinot Noir is destemmed by hand using a team of around 20. Naturally this attention to detail doesn’t come cheap – the 2012 Vendanges Entières sells for 33€ a bottle at the domaine. Would you find the same quality, however, in Burgundy for this price?

Clément Pinard

Clément Pinard

Arnaud Bourgeois

Arnaud Bourgeois

Given Sancerre’s current success and wealth it is easy to forget how poor and backward the area was still at the end of the 1940s and early 1950s. I always remember many years ago André Dézat recounting the lack of electricity in the early 1950s, that water had to be fetched from the well and that for most families in the area they made a living of sorts on a few hectares of polyculture. It was the arrival of the first tractors in the 1950s that allowed the dynamic to start to expand their holdings. This was also the epoch when the leading lights of the appellation started to take their wine up to Paris and so established a reputation. La Maison des Sancerres in the town of Sancerre does an excellent job covering the history of this period along with separate explanations of the geology of the area. This is the starting point for understanding Sancerre.

It should not be surprising that Sancerre is the easily the largest appellation in the Central Vineyards. Simply it has the biggest area of land suited to grape production. The suitable area in Pouilly is much more limited, while for Menetou-Salon it is largely the ridge that runs from Morogues to the town of Menetou-Salon – to the south there is too much clay and there are extensive forests to the north. Now there are 465 hectares planted but back in 1991 Gilbert & Gaillard in their Guides des Vins: Pays de La Loire listed Menetou at 100 hectares.

To the south west in the Cher Valley the land appropriate for vines for the ACs of Quincy and Reuilly is very much limited. For Quincy the focus is on the gravel banks laid down by the Cher and Reuilly relies on the the slopes facing the River Arnon, otherwise this is an area of cereal production. Both ACs virtually disappeared during the 1980s – G&G record 60 ha for Quincy and just 40ha for Reuilly. Following a welcome renaissance Quincy today has some 224 hectares planted with Reuilly on 186 hectares.

Santé!

JBGlassesss