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Loire Muscadet vintage halved by frost

The Muscadet vineyards at the western end of the Loire Valley have had their potential 2008 harvest reduced by half following a severe frost last week.

Although reports of the damage caused by the frost on the night of 6 April varied, initial fears that around half of the vintage had been wiped out have now been confirmed.

Elodie Besseas, of the regional wine trade body Interloire, said vines around Bouaye, 10km southwest of Nantes, were so badly hit, ‘the loss is up to 100%.’

‘At the moment we are looking at a 50% loss overall,’ Besseas, who is technical expert for the Loire Valley vineyards from Nantes to Blois, told decanter.com. ‘There are considerable variations from sector to sector. In June, once the flowering is over, we will be able to produce a final estimate of the size of the 2008 Muscadet vintage.’

Producers echoed Besseas’ findings.

‘This is the worst frost since 1991,’ Jerome Choblet of Domaine des Herbauges, told decanter.com. ‘The damage to the buds is between 60%-80%. Because the frost occurred much earlier than in 1991, we hope that the second-generation buds will develop well and make up a lot of the deficit.’

Muscadet has already suffered from small harvests in both 2007 and 2006. Last year’s harvest was down by 16% due to frost and mildew.

‘We have no stock,’ said Choblet.

Some Muscadet producers, including Guy Bossard, were particularly badly hit by mildew in 2007, with Bossard only producing nine hectolitres per hectare.

Besseas also said that there had been some frost damage further up the valley in Anjou, which includes the appellations of Savennieres, Coteaux du Layon and Saumur-Champigny wines. Although the damage is expected to be much less than that in Muscadet, it will be ten days before its extent is known.

Written by Jim Budd

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