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

We’ve been living in the Loire for 12 years now and this is the first year that we have seen smiles on the faces of growers all over the region.

It looks like 2018 is going to provide us with some cracking wines, white, red, sparkling and sweet alike.  The weather has held up throughout October and provided lots more sunshine and perfect conditions for noble rot that has enabled growers making sweet wine to make several passes through the vineyard.

chenin plus noble rot

Lovely healthy Chenin Blanc with a portion of the bunch affected by noble rot. This is what we need in the Loire to make really fine sweet wine.

Not that 2018 hasn’t had its problems. The early rain in the season caused problems for growers trying to get out and treat their vines and then the lack of rain caused some hydric stress in the vineyards later in the season. Growers in Anjou were not picking their black grapes until relatively late, holding out for phenolic maturity. The trade off for holding off is increased potential alcohol so I do think we are going to see some fairly powerful wines this year in terms of concentration, tannin and alcohol.

Treating 2 tanks of Cabernet Franc in two different ways. One tank heated briefly and the other kept cool. You can see the difference in concentration (and aromas) with the heated must. This was done to eliminate green flavours in the potential wine.

Christophe Daviau (Anjou-Villages-Brissac) had yet to pick his Cabernet Sauvignon on the 13th October and Sebastien du Petit Thouars (Chinon) hadn’t picked his Cabernet Franc on the 13th. At Chateau de Fesles they had just done a pass through the vineyard for sweet wine on the 12th and were waiting to pass through again.

What has been great about this vintage is that it seems to have delivered quantity as well as quality this year, something desperately needed by many growers who have suffered 4 years out of the last 7 with frost or hail.

Fermentations seem to be going through fairly quickly this year although those working with native yeasts may face some difficulty getting fermentations to completion as wild yeasts die out at lower alcohol concentrations. We look forward to tasting the finished wines as and when they come to fruition.

While growers are happy about this year, they are already looking towards the next season and growers in Bourgueil were burying the cows’ horns for the most important bio-dyanamic preparation on the 18th October.

Burying the cows’ horns for preparation 500 in the Bourgueil appellation