Wine News 

Loire Produced `Generous' 2018 Vintage After Frost, Drought of Previous Years

February 6, 2019

Loire winemakers are reporting a rebound in quantity for the region's 2018 vintage as vineyards the length of the river from Sancerre and Pouilly Fume in the east to Anjou and Muscadet in the west benefited from warm, dry summer weather. 

Photo: Chateau d'Epire samples at the Salon des Vins de Loire, Angers. Photo: Guy Collins

The recovery in volumes, matched by generally high quality mature fruit throughout the region, followed two years during which many growers suffered significant crop losses, first from drought in 2016 and then spring frosts in 2017. 

The 2018 vintage for red wines of the Anjou region was ``generous in quality, generous in quantity and generous in alcohol,'' Jean-Michel Monnier, who teaches oenology at Angers University, said during a presentation at the Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers Feb. 4. He said an unusually wet spring, which caused  mildew problems for some growers, was followed by four months of uninterrupted dry weather from July through October. 

In Sancerre 2017 was good but the 2018 wines show more freshness, according to Clement Raimbault, a fourth-generation winemaker who with his brother Julien vinifies with 2,000 liter Austrian barrels, a trend in the region as it gives more subtlety to the oak. Sancerre specializes Sauvignon Blanc whites, with smaller quantities of Pinot Noir reds. 

At Chateau d'Epire in Savennieres, cellar master Christophe Onillon said that after the estate lost 60 percent of its harvest in 2017, ``we filled up'' in 2018. He noted that Savennieres as a whole, a region noted for the complexity of its aged Chenin Blanc whites,  lost 95 percent of its production in 2017, and said that while Chateau d'Epire was able to avert the threat of mildew from the spring rain in 2018, some winemakers in the region still lost 30 or 40 percent of output as a result.

At Vins Oliviers in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, where the vineyards produce red Cabernet Franc wines, Patrick Olivier described 2018 as ``an exceptional vintage,'' saying ``we had water and good weather at the same time.'' The vineyard lost half of its crop in 2016, and while it escaped more lightly in 2017, the vines developed more slowly that year. 


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