After all our worries about the rain and cold of summer, September turned out to be sunny after all and we were able to bring in a healthy harvest. The grapes were beautifully ripe, and we picked them just when they showed the exact aromatic profile we wanted. Quality promises to be excellent this year, and on the whole, quantities are fine – although certain appellations have returned yields lower than in 2013. Let’s zoom in on the 2014 vintage and on the winegrowers who are all smiles!
Pays Nantais: Expressive, precise wines
In the radiant sunshine of an Indian summer - with over 80% more sunshine than usual - harvesting took place in ideal conditions. Growers were in their vineyards from 10th September onwards: with September’s perfect weather conditions, they could take their time to pinpoint the exact moment to pick their grapes.
The grapes were excellent, with good sugar levels; however, the level of concentration in the berries just before harvesting thwarted any earlier predictions of copious yields. Tasting and other analyses showed good ripeness and firm, aromatic grapes. Initial reports lead us to infer that wines will be elegant, expressive, taut and precise. Prepare for a deliciously complex Muscadet 2014!
Anjou Saumur: the vintage of our dreams!
The famous ‘douceur angevine’ – that gentle Anjou climate – has done it again. Following an exceptionally successful flowering season and ideal conditions, growers looked forward to the harvests with optimism. Grapes were harvested at the peak of ripeness, and the vintage is looking very promising indeed for Anjou Saumur. Whites and rosés are highly aromatic, showing a fresh, citrusy profile with notes of ripe fruit. Cabernet Franc reds are showing a rich aromatic palette and a maturity that leads us to expect some excellent cuvées for laying down. Late autumn brought some beautiful weather, perfect for the sweet whites; these promise to be fruity and well-balanced. Quality, in short, is excellent, and quantities on a par with 2012 and 2013. Overall, the wines are concentrated, with a notable finesse in the Chenins. We would have to go back as far as 1997 to find another vintage of this calibre!
West of the Touraine – reds and whites in perfect harmony
Red grapes have shown a remarkable level of phenolic ripeness, giving exceptional quality and elegant tannins. Cabernet Franc reds are well-coloured, with blueberry and black fruit flavours; tannins are already smooth and rounded and balance is almost perfect. The Chenin Blancs are the best we have seen since 2010, while Vouvray demi-secs are also promising excellent quality. Rosés are fresh and smooth. This vintage is showcasing every varietal to its best advantage – but it will pay to stay vigilant throughout the maturing process to avoid losing this promising edge. Volumes are likely to remain stable or to fall, depending on appellation.
East of the Touraine – superb Sauvignons
September’s magnificent weather meant that Sauvignons could be harvested according to the aromatic profile growers were seeking. Aromatic expression is powerful and quite excellent: crisp and clean with notes of citrus. Across some of the best parcels, ripeness could be maximised to give greater texture potential and lower acidity levels. Here, the Sauvignons developed notes of tropical fruit, to make rich, high quality wines. Two different profiles, then, which may either differentiate the cuvées, or make blends with maximum complexity and perfect balance on the palate.
Sparkling wines: some excellent blends on the horizon!
This has been a good harvest for sparkling wines. The Chardonnays are beautifully ripe, and the Chenins are also showing good quality overall, despite some incidence of botrytis in the Crémant parcels. Chardonnay yields are on the low side, but yields of Chenin are good. Quality is on a par with 2012, if not better. Vinification and prise de mousse have progressed under very good conditions, and the first colours and flavours presage a rich, complex vintage with wines needing only a period of ageing sur lattes. We can look forward to seeing some excellent blends!