What’s been going on in the Loire valley vineyards in October?

handpicked grapes

Harvest here in the Vouvray appellation finished about a couple of weeks ago although Domaine Huet still had grapes hanging on the vine long after other growers had brought their grapes in.

All in all expectations seemed to be worse than reality when it came to amount of volume lost due to the excessive heat this season. Vincent Careme said he was happy with the quality and quantity brought in and while some parcels were more affected than others, volumes albeit lower than in 2018, are ok. He will be concentrating on dry wine this vintage.

You can expect to see less sweet wine from this area of the Loire in 2019 as rain came in the middle of picking. Some later passes have been made in the Anjou region but most growers around here made lots of sweet wine in 2018 so were more than happy to bring the grapes in and concentrate on dry wine this year. The lack of water also made it difficult to get grapes ripe this year.

This year is likely to be quite challenging from a winemaking perspective. The lack of rain has meant smaller berries than normal which in turn led to thicker skins and less juice. Growers have had to hang on for phenolic maturity in the Cab Francs around here despite having potential alcohols of around 14° and some wines have already rattled through the malolactic fermentation despite not having finished the alcoholic fermentation. Levels of malic acid in wines are lower than normal this year.

Whites on the whole seem to have higher levels of tartaric acidity than in 2018 making for fresher style wines than last year. A good thing in our opinion.

The Cab Franc coming in in Saumur Champigny, St Nicolas de Bourgueil, Chinon and Bourgueil looks to be in good health. Cab Franc suffered much less than Chenin Blanc in the heat this year and growers are happy with the quality.