Tue 22 Jan 2013

Loire 2012: The Wonders of Nature


One of the joys of my most recent visit to the Loire was seeing a red squirrel, a deep, rich red brown, scampering across the road. They are smaller than our grey ones and a joy to behold. One of our Loire suppliers has one that does acrobatics in a tree just outside their kitchen window and I always feel disappointed when he does not appear to perform when I am visiting.

The Loire has had its share of disappointments this last year. As already reported on Society Grapevine, the weather threw all it had got at them throughout the 2012 growing season. This time, ironically, they – and the harvest – were saved not by an Indian summer but by rain.

The good, the bad and the ugly: chenin blanc vines, all within a few rows of one another, photographed on a visit to the Loire in August 2012.

Already low yields (due mostly to mildew and poor flowering) were not ripening, when early poor, wet weather was followed by drought in August and September. Alain Cailbourdin (Pouillys Boisfleury and Les Cris) explained that in Pouilly-sur-Loire the rain came too late for his newly planted vineyard, which had not just suffered but had lost many of its leaves, vital to feed the vine.

The more mature vines, however, fared better and were revived by the rain, and the maturation process could begin once more.

There’s no getting away from it being a challenging year: quantities are down, sometimes by as much as 50%, and we fear many more Loire producers will throw in the towel this year. But many of those hanging on in there have made memorable and excellent wines this year. Prices are likely to go up, but in a region where so many have been static in recent years, and where some exceptionally good wines have been made, any increase is a small price to pay.

Against all nature’s odds, there will be some delicious 2012 Loire wines.

Jo Locke MW
Society Buyer for the Loire


  1. Penelope Lowndes says:

    It’s to be hoped that not too many small producers will be forced out of the market; variety is one reason why I like wines from this area

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