Centre Loire AOPs confident in 2016 quality

The appellations of Centre Loire are still counting the cost of the ravages of the weather in 2016 but are confident in the quality of the wines.

SancerreThe year, “has been giving our winegrowers a run for their money,” admitted a report from the trade body Les Vins du Centre Loire; which represents Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy, Reuilly, Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant.

The report continued: “Weather conditions were difficult; growers have had to contend with rain, humidity, frost and even sunscald, but have carried on regardless. Luckily nature rallied at the eleventh hour, and the vintage will be an excellent one after all.”

As it went on, January was “excessively mild” and “excessively rainy” – with particularly heavy downpours around 15 January – St Vincent’s Day – and the first weeks of March.

The growing cycle was late, beginning in April, through a period of alternating mild and cold weather. Late April saw a particularly serious frost, May was likewise colder than usual and saw rainfall 15% above the average.

There was no let up in early June and the continued damp weather encouraged downy mildew, while the irregular flowering eventually led to coulure and millerandage.

Exact figures of the losses incurred in different regions were not included in the report but it did state: “The extent of the damage is difficult to estimate, but we already know that the effects are likely to be serious in Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé and Quincy, and to a lesser extent Sancerre.”

Even if the final figures are not known yet, it is possible that they are less severe than more western parts of the Loire around Tours, Angers and Nantes, where especially bad frosts and hail are known to have struck in addition to wet weather and rot.

In a pattern repeated in other French regions, as June progressed the weather improved culminating in a heatwave in August – which now caused hydric stress and even some cases of sunburn.

The good weather continued into September with just a little more – now needed – rain falling on the 14th and 16th of that month which checked declining acidity levels.

It remained dry throughout the harvesting period the report continued and as a late vintage they show “plenty of texture and a crisp texture”.

The report was particularly positive of the red wines, which it said were intensely coloured and “showing aromas of red fruits including blackcurrant and raspberry, mixed with florals. Mouthfeel is fresh, underpinned by velvety-smooth tannins.”

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