A further word on this year’s white wine vintage here in the Loire valley. In our area Anjou/Saumur the start of the season was very early by some 4 weeks due to the very warm months of April and May. The vines flowered in early June so the harvest was predicted around the second week of Spetember. They say around here that the harvest is about 90 to 100 days from flowering. If the weather had stayed warm throughout the summer the berries would have been ready then but as is the unpredictability of the weather the months of July and August were not very settled with cloudy colder days and rain. This delayed the ripening of the berries and this put back the harvest of the main crop by two weeks so over the last week the chenin blanc has been harvested and next week will be the turn of the cabernet franc. Normally October is the month of still wine harvests so we are still early. We have had a lot of rain over the beginning of September and only in the last week have we had some good weather with warm sunny days. The bad weather had two effects on the berries. First they started to be affected by rot from the damp conditions and secondly the berry juice concentration has been reduced but this has one good attribute in that the acid levels tend to be reduced so there is less concern with the too high acid levels. The maturity was around 12% at that stage and the not so careful winemaker will have harvsted before the rot got too bad. Unfortunately from my knowledge the white still wine may exhibit some ‘rust’ taste which will impart some affect on the final wine. The period of warm weather we are now experiencing has helped to rebalance the juice concentration in the berries and if you are a good viticulturist tending your vines carefully the rotten berries will have been removed to help prevent further rot and with the process of effeuillage or leaf removal this has exposed the berries to the sun and helped air circulation around the bunches. Maturity will have climbed nearer to 13% and the balance with acid should now develop a well balanced wine.
So in conclusion, the vintage will be mixed and my advice will be to seek out the best viticulturist/winemaker as his wine will be more elegant, structured and balanced so it could be as nearly as good as last year whilst with the winemaker who is only interested in harvesting his maximum allowance of the appellation the harvest will be mediocre and certainly not as good as last year.
For most people finding the best winemaker is impossible unless you have someone to point you in the right direction. Here at Grainger Fine Wines we can do that for you as we only have top quality winemakers in our portfolio. Have a look at the 2009/2010 wines we currently have on offer at www.gfwine.co.uk. Cheers.