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DWWA 2014: Loire insights

Hear from our Loire Regional Chair Jim Budd on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

You might have thought that with two difficult vintages, 2012 and 2013, this year’s judging would be a dour affair. Not at all: we awarded four Trophies and three Golds – by far the best Loire result in the 11 years of the DWWA! Because of the diversity of styles it is very rare that a Loire vintage is a complete write-off. Instead, cooler vintages favour the dry whites, while in warmer years the reds and sweets will come to the fore. It is testimony to those producers who conquered or made the best of the elements in 2012 and 2013 and sent samples to us.

What should we buy from here?

Although overall many wines from the Loire offer great value, the current champion has to be Muscadet. Whether it is a simple straight Muscadet or one ‘sur lie’, these wines offer consistency and a range of styles. The lighter, lemony style is the classic match for shellfish, but the richer styles are an ideal partner with grilled fish or sauced fish dishes. Meanwhile, stock up on any 2010 and 2011 sweet wines from Anjou available. They are two lovely vintages that have the characteristic Loire sweetness and refreshing acidity. Do ignore the tendency to call these ‘dessert’ wines; they are much more versatile, especially the lighter styles.

What should we leave on the shelf?

It is impossible to pick out any one appellation or style that should be ignored, but Loire Sauvignon Blanc in all categories should be bought with care. Once again this grape accounted for nearly 50% of the entries. There were some real highlights – the two Trophies and a Gold from Sancerre – but there were also too many dull, unripe wines in all appellations and at all price points. And don’t buy 2012 and 2013 sweet wines – 2011, 2010 and 2007 are much better and will give pleasure for many decades yet.

What should we keep an eye on?

It was very exciting that a 2009 Muscadet Cru won a Trophy. These wines have much longer lees ageing – in most cases more than 24 months – and are a real revelation. Our panel likened it to a fine Chablis or Côte d’Or white at a fraction of the price. And while medium-sweet rosés are far from the most fashionable style, quality is improving. Put prejudices to one side and try the Cabernet d’Anjou and Rosé d’Anjou that we awarded Silver.

Written by Decanter

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