The Wines of Loire Valley
posted on June 21st, 2013 by Geoff Nicoll
As a fan of the Loire Valley, its breathtaking landscape, delicious cheeses and of course its spectacular wines, I feel it is justified to help shed some light on some fantastic finds that were discovered on a jaunt to the beautiful countryside.
Following a string of good vintages, 2009 through 2011, it was destined that the streak would end, or the last grape would drop. Nothing good lasts forever! Fortunately, that sentiment will have to be put on hold until another year as 2012 turned out to be spectacular.
The spring started out tough, with frost, hail, rain, everything bad and detrimental to a good bud set. Of course, along with the rampant moisture came the mildew, which continued to devastate the already compromised crop. Then comes a cold snap where nothing progresses, the fruit was late to set, what was left of it, and things just looked dismal. With as much as half of the vineyards being assailed by Mother Nature, it looked bad for the farmer, the consumer and the region as a whole.
Along came the summer which shed a glimmer of light, and those that gave up any iota of spare time managed to salvage this difficult season, and those in the know made some absolutely fabulous wines. Limited yields, a longer cool growing season, aggressive pruning, rigorous hand selection and meticulous attention to detail paid off. The resulting wines show an expression and purity I hadn’t seen for more than a decade. This is clearly a textbook example of Loire Valley.
Muscadet, an unsung hero, took the biggest hit, but those that managed to weather the storm are the best in recent memory, as the purity and vibrance is unrivaled. This should be the go to for the Summer.
Touraine took it pretty badly as well, but as it is situated more to the East, it benefitted by a warmer influence which helped dry the fruit and added complexity and richness. Unbelievable quality to value.
Up north, drought conditions popped up which impacted Sancerre and Pouilly, but that was tamed by some cooling September storms, which slowed the ripening thus preserving the freshness.
All in all, 2012 turned out to be a very difficult but rewarding vintage that is delicious in its youth, but adds the promise of maturing for a few more years.
Drouet Le Muscadet
Domaine Bouchaud Muscadet Sevre et Maine
Domaine Chapitre ‘Le S’ Touraine Sauvignon
Le Haut Mesnil Cuvee Prestige Sancerre
Domaine Clef du Recit Sancerre
Domaine Champeau Pouilly Fume Cuvee Silex
Domaine Bouchot Pouilly Fume Kerbiquet