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Loire 2013 harvest ‘difficult and complicated’

Many producers in the Loire will be crossing their fingers for next year after a ‘difficult and complicated’ 2013 harvest, but there could still be some attractive wines.

Photo: Jim Budd

A cold and wet spring hampered bud break and delayed flowering in the Loire until late June. A good summer was tapered by hot, humid weather in late September, which caused rot.

In Vouvray specifically, half of the appellation was hit by severe hail on 17 June.

‘The harvest is down by 40%,’ says Marie Thomas, of the Syndicat des Vignerons de Vouvray. ‘Most of the harvest will be for sparkling Vouvray, with a small amount of sec made and even less demi-sec, but no moelleux.’

Across the Loire, picking started late September for the early varieties in the Pays Nantais and Touraine. Sancerre and Pouilly began in early October, although many picked much later and harvesting for Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc only started on 10 October.

Alcohol is lower than normal, commonly coming in at around 10.5% and 11%, while acidity is high – although may be reduced via partial malolactic fermentation. Many producers have chaptalised for the first time in a decade or more.

Despite the prevalence of rot, juice tasted throughout the Loire during harvest was clean and it is likely that there will be some attractive wines produced.

But, after two short years, many producers in the Loire will be desperate for decent 2014 vintage to replenish stocks. ‘It’s dramatic,’ said Jacky Blot, of Domaine de la Taille au Loups and Domaine de la Butte. ‘Adding 2012 and 2013 together, we are down by 250,000 bottles.’

The last really good Loire vintage ending in four was 1964.

Written by Jim Budd

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