Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 22 September 2017

2017 Loire – a generally promising impression so far

After a week on the road we are now back in our base in the Cher Valley. Time to relax, reflect on what we have seen, heard and tasted as well as get out on the bike to work off any additional pounds gained. 

Since we arrived in the Loire we have been to the following appellations looking at vineyards, talking to producers and often tasting the recently pressed juice or juice that has recently started fermenting. ACs: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Fiefs Vendéens, Touraine, Menetou-Salon, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Saumur-Champigny and Saumur. We have not yet had time to visit Anjou nor indeed any of the vineyards of the Upper Loire.
The vintage is a  truly magical time of the year! I am always grateful for the time that so many producers give me at this very busy period. It's a great privilege!

My overall impression – though I agree it is still early days –   is that 2017 is a good to very promising vintage. Tasting juice from Muscadet to Pouilly I have found that they all have weight of fruit, are very clean, precise and well balanced. 

The major concern, of course is the loss of crop due to the late April frosts. However, the effects are very variable with, of all the places, we have visited  Muscadet being the worst hit but this is very variable with some producers barely affected to those who have lost virtually all of their 2017 crop. Picking will now be over in Muscadet and a substantial proportion of the crop in Sancerre will have been picked by the middle of next. 

In contrast most of the Cabernet Franc in Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Bourgueil and Chinon has yet to be picked. Many producers are planning to start this coming Monday. 

For the moment the weather forecast is good more settled than the first part of the month, which has been quite wet after a dry summer and sometimes very hot summer. 

One producer I saw today thought 2017 might be as good as 2005. Maybe but the September rains must have brought some dilution, although below the top soil the ground remains very dry. 

Time early next week to have a look at Montlouis and Vouvray.

Over the next few days I plan to post more detailed reports on individual appellations. 


Thursday, 21 September 2017

2017 Loire – emptying a case of Sauvignon Blanc @Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre

The start – picking up the case

A series of photos of 2017 Sauvignon Blanc grapes being emptied onto the conveyor belt to be loaded into the vat to begin their transformation into 2017 Sancerre. 
 Starting to tip 

 a bit more 

 Grapes beginning to fall

Grapes in full flow

 Last few grapes 
Off up the conveyor belt

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

2017 Loire – Sancerre

After spending one and a half days in Sancerre visiting a number of producers, the quality of 2017 appears to be promising as it does so far in the other parts of the Loire where I have had the opportunity to taste either the new pressed juice or those that have now started to ferment. All the juices appear to be very clean and precise.

On the whole the potential alcohol degrees are mainly between 12.5% - 13% with acidity between 5.0 and 5.5 giving a good balance. 

There is, however, a considerable difference in the ripeness depending on the parcels and sectors. 

Clément Pinard, Domaine Vincent Pinard (Monday 18th September)
"I'm super happy. We started picking our Sauvignon on Friday 8th September and have finished today  we visited – Monday 18th. The alcohol levels are between 12.3% and 13.1% with the acidity varying between 5.3 and 5.4 giving us a good balance. We have a new cuvée called Le Château from a one hectare plot in Bué.   

We  will start picking the Pinot Noir tomorrow." 

However, as it poured with rain on Tuesday morning they may have delayed the start slightly.

In contrast Pascal Joulain of Domaine Michel Vattan in Maimbray only started picking today. Admittedly Maimbray is higher than Bué and cooler. "I have waited until the grapes are properly ripe. They are very clean and healthy so there has been no rush to start," said Pascal.

(Other comments from Sancerre producers to be added soon.)