Mon 17 Oct 2016

Harvest 2016: Muscadet – Chinks of Light

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One of the Loire regions hardest hit by frost this spring (the worst since 1991, with some growers cropping as little as 5-10 hl/ha, a fraction of an increasingly rare ‘normal’ crop) the Nantais concluded its harvest in fine conditions after a growing season full of challenges to stretch every grower.

Bernard Chéreau overseeing matters at Chéreau-Carré

Bernard Chéreau overseeing matters at Chéreau-Carré

Chéreau-Carré

A wet spring and extended cold, damp flowering period compounded the in-some-cases gloomy start to the season. Heat and drought ensued in a summer that even challenged holiday makers with more than one period of exceptionally high temperatures. The only good news in this, other than sun tans all round, was that earlier disease pressure in the vineyards was stopped in its tracks, and there will not be much need to chaptalise this year either.

Smiling faces at Domaine du Grand Mouton

Smiling faces at Domaine du Grand Mouton

Domaine du Grand Mouton

A fine late season, with a little rain at just the right time to revive the vines and restart maturation, and dry, sunny, often windy days and chilly nights allowed growers to bring in a healthy, if often cruelly small crop.

Domaine du Grand Mouton

On my recent visit at the tail end of the harvest I saw – and tasted – healthy fruit, talked with sanguine (mighty relieved) growers and heard some pretty tragic stories that may see more Muscadet vignerons throwing in the towel.

On the last day of the harvest at Vinet

On the last day of the harvest at Vinet

And the wines? There will not be a consistent picture (it was a particularly tricky year for organic producers for example), but the best results will produce a richer style of Muscadet, perhaps somewhere between 2015 and 2003 in style.

Jo Locke MW
Society Buyer

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