If you are a fan of Loire White Wines you may find they are increasingly difficult to get hold of at a sensible price in 2017 . . .
The big freeze in France last spring saw the worst frost for 25 years. The Loire’s trade body, InterLoire, confirmed that there will be serious problems obtaining Loire wines and that there is growing concern over stock levels.
High consumer demand and a smaller harvest means there is less wine to go round. Thanks to the drop in production prices are set to soar.
Appellations in the Loire that were affected are:
Although great swathes of the Loire were affected damage was very hit and miss depending on the micro-climates in each vineyard. Muscadet and Pouilly Fume were amongst the worst affected. Some wine makers lost up to 80% of the crop in Pouilly Fume but most losses in general were between 20-30%. The worst hit regions have said it has been a catastrophe. However appellations such as Cabernet d’Anjou, Rose d’Anjou, Cremant de Loire and Vouvray suffered less and should be able to meet demand.
One of the issues leading on from the frost damage has been the outbreak of Coulure (the dropping of flowers resulting in less grapes on a cluster), Millerandage (poor fertilisation resulting in small, seedless shot grapes) and Rot. Unusually the Sauvignon Blanc was affected, which is quite rare. Coupled with the drought in July/August all these issues have compounded the difficulties in harvesting good quality grapes, resulting in very reduced yields.
The Loire was not the only region to be affected by severe frost – Burgundy suffered its worst frost since 1981 with hailstorms leading to disaster in Chablis and Beaujolais. One Beaujolais wine maker said that the weather had been so awful ‘all that was missing was a plague of frogs’. Champagne has suffered too with snow falling in April and in the south Languedoc vineyards in Pic St Loup north of Montpellier were hit by hail stones the size of golf balls.
Official figures from the Ministry of Agriculture show 2016 as one of the worst years in three decades, with production down one third in Champagne and other key wine regions like Burgundy and the Loire valley almost as badly hit.
Thankfully we have excellent relationships with our producers and recently introduced three thrilling Loire Whites to the UK (details below). We are accepting orders on our website but if you would like to reserve some for yourselves by pre-ordering please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Les Roitelieres Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine – Silver Medal £9.99
Newly introduced to the UK by Bordeaux-Undiscovered, this refreshing silver medal winning Muscadet comes from the Sèvre et Maine, named for the two rivers which converge just outside Nantes near the Atlantic coast. This appellation is the most important region for high quality Muscadet. It lies near the far end of the Loire Valley and the climate is cooler here, dominated by the ocean. Crafted by the Loire specialists Bougrier, Les Roitelieres Muscadet is made from Melon de Bourgogne. This grape originated in Burgundy and is an offspring of Pinot Noir and a cousin of Chardonnay. The Bougrier vineyards lie in Le Pallet, one of three top Cru level villages on the banks of the river Sèvre.
Clean, fresh, pure and racy; this style of wine makes Pinot Grigio hang its head in shame. Bright, appetizing flavours of lemon zest, green apple and pear with notes of lime blossom, freshly cut hay and anise. Beautifully delicate with flinty minerality and a hint of iodine. A classic wine to drink with oysters; it rivals Chablis when it comes to food pairing with shellfish.
Les Champs des Cris, Pouilly Fume, 2015 £15.99
Exclusive to Bordeaux-Undiscovered, Les Champs de Cris comes from the vineyards on rolling terrain near Boisgibault and embodies all the qualities of this venerated appellation. Pouilly Fume is famous for its universally recognisable aromas of smoke and wet slate; it’s one of the Loire’s most venerated wines. The little appellation sits around the town of Pouilly sur Loire opposite Sancerre on the bank of the upper Loire, close to Burgundy. The smoky aroma is attributed to the local terroir. The most famous soils here are Kimmeridigian limestone containing fossilised oyster shells and limestone clays peppered with flints. The local name for Sauvignon Blanc is ‘fume’ (smoke) and the distinctive aroma is known as ‘pierre a fusil’ which refers to the smoky smell of a fired gun when the flint is struck.
Delicious, elegant Pouilly Fume with characteristic flinty mineral and smoky notes. A delicately sculpted palate with a vibrant core of grapefruit, green apple and gunflint laced with white currant and chamomile. Vivacious, crisp and beautifully balanced. Lovely purity with a long finish. Good cellaring potential.
Domaine Millet. Sancerre, 2015 £15.99
Exclusive to Bordeaux-Undiscovered this superb Sancerre is made by the Bougrier family who have specialized in the wines of the Loire Valley since 1885 (over 5 generations). The head of the family, Noel Bougrier, has long been an ambassador for Loire Valley wines and is president of the Syndicat of Loire Valley negociants. Their Sancerre vineyards lie on the chalky limestone hills looking down on the River Loire and its tributary the River Cher. Sancerre sits directly opposite the appellation of Pouilly Fume in the eastern part of the Loire. The town lies on an outcrop of the chalk that runs from the White Cliffs of Dover across to Champagne and on to Chablis in Burgundy. The Domaine Millet Sancerre is made from grapes grown on the area known as ‘Terres Blanches’ (the white ground) which refers to the layer of white fossil strewn soil covering the limestone slopes that gives this wine its deliciously dry chalky character.
Citrusy, chalky Sancerre with remarkable depth. Cool, crisp and pure. Deep aromas of blackcurrant blossom with subtle herbaceous hints of lemongrass and lovage. Fresh flavours of lime, gooseberry and melon. Finely tuned, taut and vibrant with a lovely long lingering finish.