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Vintages

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  • 2023: A COLD, WET WINTER THAT ENDS EARLY

    Between the harvest of 2022 and the first breaths of February 2023, winter was generally wet and icy. However, from February onwards, the arrival of milder weather heralded the ever-earlier arrival of spring. Spring enabled the winegrowers to get on with their work in the vineyards, but it was short on rainfall, reducing the amount of groundwater that could be replenished.

    Temperatures, which were very mild for the season, remained in balance, causing the vines to bud in the middle of April, in line with the ten-year average.

    RAPID AND COMPLICATED VINE START-UP

    At the end of April, the capricious temperatures began to rise again, while the rain persevered on the vineyard. These unexpected conditions gave the vines the opportunity to grow with notable speed, while at the same time opening the door to an exacerbated virulence of fungal diseases. For the winegrowers, there was little margin for error, forcing them to redouble their efforts to protect their precious vineyards, at a time when working the soil was becoming remarkably complex.

    The first glimmer of hope came with the flowering of the grapes, which turned out to be very beautiful. The robustness of the foliage, having survived the rigours of the 2022 harvest, enabled substantial reserves to be built up. These reserves enabled the vines to produce bunches of grapes in abundance.

    The end of May and the beginning of June were milder, easing the pressure exerted by fungal diseases.

    A RAINY, GROWING END TO THE CYCLE

    Towards the tenth day of June, the return of rain once again raised the pressure of fungal diseases, while offering the striking spectacle of spectacular swelling of the grape bunches. At that point, the state of health of the vineyards was extremely satisfactory, with a good yield potential, particularly remarkable for pinot noir. Despite the care taken in pruning the shoots in the spring, it proved necessary to carry out a green harvest!

    The first green berries appeared around the fifteenth day of July. At this time, a few episodes of scald caused burns on some of the bunches exposed to the sun, but the considerable initial potential enabled the winegrowers to deal with this phenomenon calmly.

    SLOW RIPENING AND PERFECT HEALTH

    Despite the heavy rainfall and all the complexities of the year, the vines were in impeccable health during the ripening phase and throughout the harvest, enabling them to reach optimum ripeness.

    In the early days of September, a late heatwave precipitated the start of the harvest, particularly for the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varieties, while also contributing to the concentration of this generous crop.

    In the end, the efforts made to regulate yields paid off! Nevertheless, an exceptional bunch weight and generous juices enabled us to obtain favourable yields for both Pinot and Sauvignon.

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE VINTAGE

    The state of health of the harvested grapes now offers exquisitely pure aromas. As far as the vinification of the white wines is concerned, the lower sugar levels compared with previous vintages are creating extremely favourable conditions for fermentation.

    The qualitative potential of the grapes, meanwhile, is unmistakably evident in the wines being made, where all the elements needed to create balanced wines are gradually coming into harmony. Extended periods of ageing will soon reveal the full promise of this vintage.

    As far as the red wines are concerned, although the phenolic ripeness was not totally perfect at harvest time, the talent of the winemakers in the cellars has enabled them to create fruit-driven wines with remarkably harmonious tannic structures, thanks in particular to meticulous sorting in the vineyards and cellars, delicate extractions and moderate vatting times. These are red wines of undeniable elegance!

  • 2022: A YEAR IN THE VINEYARDS IN EXTREME CONDITIONS

    On the whole, the year's unpredictable weather conditions spared the key stages in the life of plants. The historically dry summer was offset by some rare but abundant rainfall. 2022, a sunny, well-balanced vintage.

     

    WINE COUNTRY

    The Centre-Loire vineyards had a fairly mild winter in 2021-2022, with temperatures above seasonal normals. There was some light rainfall, with no significant impact on dormant plants.

    Following a rather mild February, the March-April period alternated between rain and sunshine, providing an ideal opportunity for the vines to wake up. As a result of this mild weather, the vines emerged early. It was during this sensitive period that two waves of frost hit the Centre-Loire vineyards. Between 3 and 4 April, temperatures dropped to -6°C, giving winegrowers quite a scare. Later, on the night of 9 to 10 April, the mercury dropped less sharply, to around -2.7°C. Fortunately, there were very few losses, as the vegetative stage of the vines was not very advanced and the low level of humidity helped to preserve the buds on the vines. The mild conditions that followed these episodes ensured a rapid recovery in vegetation.

    Budburst occurred in mid-April, two weeks ahead of normal.

     From the beginning of May, a warm, dry climate set in across the region. This ideal weather for vegetative development meant that the vines had a lot of work to do to support their growth. It is also worth noting that only 40 to 50 mm of rain fell over the whole month, compared with a ten-year average of 50-60 mm.

    At the end of May, flowering took place in ideal conditions, but the worry of a predicted drought began to make itself felt in the rows, with temperatures approaching 30°C from mid-May onwards. June calmed things down by bringing much-needed water, with between 40 mm and 100 mm falling across the whole vineyard, particularly in the second half of the month. Concerns then turned to the risk of mildew developing, as the bunches are particularly susceptible at this time of year.

    Once again, more fear than harm, as the heat of July and the cessation of rainfall enabled the grapes to reach veraison in remarkably healthy condition. The heat continued right up until the harvest, and the summer in the Centre-Loire region was marked by four heatwaves, including two in August, with fears in some areas that the grapes might not ripen properly.

    EARLY, TROUBLE-FREE HARVESTS

    The first harvests were declared on 25 August in the Menetou-Salon appellation, and the first prunings were carried out in the plots of Pinot gris (a generally early-ripening grape variety) in the Reuilly appellation. For the rest of the Centre-Loire appellations, the harvest generally began between 5 and 10 September.

    At flowering, there was every reason to believe that the harvest would be very early, but the delay in veraison due to the hot weather finally redressed the balance and enabled the winegrowers to harvest large volumes.

    The first juices point to a sunny vintage, with the fine balance and freshness expected of Centre-Loire wines. In terms of quantity, after a difficult 2021, the volume harvested has put a smile back on the faces of the cellars.

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE VINTAGE

    The sunny summer ensured that the grapes ripened perfectly and the vineyard was in remarkably good health. This enabled the Pinot Noir to refine its tannins and the anthocyanins to gain in concentration. As for the Sauvignon Blanc, its fruity aromas were able to develop throughout this period. Once the grapes had been pressed, tasting the resulting musts reveals a vintage with lovely body on the palate, as well as clean, pleasant aromas.

    Once fermentation is complete, the white wines have a fairly sunny profile on the palate, while retaining a certain freshness that is characteristic of Centre-Loire wines. White fruit and citrus aromas dominate.

    As for the reds, the nose is dominated by aromas of fresh red fruit (strawberry, cherry). The tannins are well blended and the wine is smooth on the palate.

  • 2021 : A PAINFUL BIRTH

    After a series of sun-kissed vintages, 2021 returns to the DNA of the Centre-Loire vineyards Fruit and freshness. A vintage that demanded total dedication from those who, all year round, had to deal with a capricious natural environment.

    WINE COUNTRY

    Winter 2020-2021 was once again mild. After a relatively cold January, February was mild again, despite a colder period from the 7th to the 14th. The second half of the month was spring-like. It was also a season marked by heavy rainfall, with almost daily showers. After a month of contrasts in February, March continued in the same vein. It was marked by a shortfall in rainfall, but above all by an extremely mild spell from 27 to 31 March. This once again led to an early start to vegetation, with budburst observed on March 1st.iersdays of April. A start just as early as 2020!

    But in less than 8 days, the weather changed from summer to winter. A mass of cold air circulated over the whole of France from 04 to 08 April, with its share of sub-zero temperatures. This exceptional period of frost was the most severe in 30 years. While cold snaps at the beginning of April are not unusual, the fact that they occurred a week after record-breaking heat was very damaging. Accompanied by rain or snow, the toll of this 1irst The frost was severe. A second series of frosts on 15 and 16 April particularly affected the Châteaumeillant vineyards, which had been spared overall at the start of the month. The damage to harvest potential is difficult to estimate, but we all know that it will be significant for the Sancerre, Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon and Châteaumeillant appellations, and to a lesser extent Pouilly-Fumé, Reuilly and Quincy.

    As if April's frosts had not been enough, May got off to a flying start with sub-zero temperatures: it was the lower slopes, which had been spared in April, that were hit by these sub-zero temperatures. Damage during this period was minimal. May was cool and rainy overall. In these conditions, the restart of vegetation was slowed. The disbudding work dragged on and on, and was carried out in unpleasant weather conditions. Compared with 2020, vegetation was 3 to 4 weeks behind at the end of May.

    Then the weather changes on the 1iers days of June: the vine starts to grow at a frenetic pace. The vines are finally turning green. Their explosive growth made green harvesting very complicated. Labour was in short supply in some areas and it was difficult to catch up. Everything is growing, the vines... and the grass. Work to protect the vineyards was also intense. Downy mildew pressure was high, with regular rainfall, short spraying periods and increasingly difficult access to certain plots. The weather is stressful for the vines and for the men and women who grow them.

    A note of optimism in the middle of the month: flowering took advantage of the mild weather between 14 and 18 June to start and finish quickly. An important stage in the vegetative cycle will have taken place under suitable conditions!

    The weekend of 19-20 June was marked by further climatic incidents, which quickly put an end to this optimism: hail in the Pouilly-Fumé appellation, with major losses in some plots, and very heavy rainfall in the Menetou-Salon appellation, making access to several plots difficult. The weather in July was also complicated, with excess rainfall and summer-like temperatures from 18 to 23 July. Under these conditions, sunshine was at a low ebb and mildew and powdery mildew were very active. Despite a great deal of effort, some plots were affected in terms of harvest quantity by these fungi.

    The grapes began to change colour in mid-August, following a summer incursion from 10th to 15th, which gave us hope that this gloomy period, which had been going on since April, would come to an end. This was not to be. Temperatures were below normal for the season, and development was slow. As the grapes begin to ripen, however, the end of the ordeal seems to be approaching.

    MATURATION

    This part of the vegetative cycle is taking place under weather conditions marked by a lack of sunshine and the return of rain. While average temperatures remained within seasonal norms, lows were well below them. Under these conditions, the ripening of the grapes slowed down. Sugars accumulate slowly and acids are preserved. Temperature variations, on the other hand, are favourable to aromatic and phenolic ripening. While the rainfall observed during the ripening period allowed the berries to swell, it maintained a high level of humidity, which was conducive to the development of botrytis.

    The state of health will be a factor to be taken into account when deciding when to pick.

    THE VENDANGES

    The harvest got off to a slow start. The pinot gris at Reuilly is harvested from 17 September. For the other grape varieties, harvesting begins on 23 and 24 September. The Châteaumeillant AOC closes the season with harvesting beginning on 1 September.iers days of October.

    The weather during the harvest was mixed. The temperature variations recorded remained favourable to the maturation of the aromas and tannins. Regular rainfall, even just a few millimetres, kept botrytis pressure high. Occasionally, and especially on certain filtering soils, sanitary deterioration could have led to deviations in flavour. The intensity of must settling had to be adjusted and the red grapes sorted.

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE VINTAGE

    With the grapes maturing in cooler weather conditions than in recent years, 2021 is in line with other vintages in keeping with the temperate climate of the Centre-Loire vineyards.

    White wines offer a beautiful aromatic expression. Fruity notes dominate: citrus fruits, but also white-fleshed fruits. They may be enhanced by spicy notes or subtle vegetal hints. Depending on the origin and date of harvest, their balance on the palate is characterised by a tender freshness or a more or less pronounced nervousness. Experience has taught us that this style of wine always gains in quality as it matures.

    Rosé wines are generally pale, salmon-coloured. Fruity aromas (strawberry, raspberry, banana) dominate. The palate is lively and fresh.

    The reds They are also seductively fruity (cherry, raspberry, blackcurrant). The vatting and extraction processes, which are well adapted to the characteristics of the harvest, have produced tannins that are measured and of high quality. Malolactic fermentation adds roundness. With more finesse than power, these wines are ready to be enjoyed at an early stage.

    AN UNPREDICTABLE VINTAGE.

  • 2020 : A YEAR WITH JUST TWO SEASONS

    If 2020 will be remembered forever for the health crisis, it will also be remembered in the wine world for its early vintage.

    The wine-growing countryside

    Winter 2019-2020 was the warmest in France since the beginning of the 20th century. The mild conditions prevailed throughout the season, with temperatures 3.5°C above seasonal normals in February.
    Mild winters are generally rainy, so this winter was marked by episodes of intense rainfall, ensuring that the soil was well recharged with water.
    March got off to the same start as the end of February, with two weeks of virtually uninterrupted rainfall and mild temperatures. Although the 2nd dekad of March was cool, it did not call into question the mildness of the winter and led to an early start to vegetation.
    A spell of cold weather at the beginning of April temporarily put the brakes on budburst, but the very warm weather that followed reactivated the vines. Bud-break took place on average on 5 April, 8 days earlier than the ten-year average (2010-2019).
    Temperatures remained well above seasonal normals. At the end of April, temperatures were just over 2 weeks ahead of normal.
    In May, with temperatures still mild, even summery at times, the vines continued to grow actively. 2020 looks set to be a benchmark year in terms of earliness!
    The rainy spells at the beginning of May reactivated downy mildew and triggered the implementation of protection against this parasite by winegrowers. Overall, the weather conditions remained unfavourable to downy mildew, but nevertheless gave powdery mildew the opportunity to develop in sensitive areas.
    By 20 May, the 1st flowers were visible. However, flowering did not really start in the vineyard until around 28 May, still 2 weeks ahead of the ten-year average (2010-2019). Flowering is taking place at a regular rate, over a period of 10 days, under favourable weather conditions.
    The weather in June was more gloomy than in May, with overcast conditions, a few rainy spells and below-normal temperatures. Under these conditions, the 2-week phenological advance was still in place, but did not become more pronounced. June was marked by several hailstorms at the beginning and end of the month. The Châteaumeillant appellation was heavily affected once again, as were the Reuilly and Menetou-Salon AOCs.
    The bunches closed in the first few days of July. Once this stage had been reached, the vineyards began to settle down... Veraison began in the last week of July, at the end of a dry month that showed two faces in terms of temperatures: a first fortnight that was sometimes a little cool, then a warmer second half that ended with the first heat wave of the summer.

    Maturation

    This part of the vegetative cycle took place during a month of August dominated by heat, with 2 heatwaves. Once again, damage from scorching and scalding was visible, with damage sometimes ranging from 30 to 50% in the most exposed plots.
    Nevertheless, thanks to the few millimetres of water that sprinkled the vegetation in the middle of the cycle, the berries grew. Sugars are accumulating steadily, despite a dip in this dynamic in the second half of ripening.
    The various heatwaves have led to a deterioration in malic acid. Tartaric acid, on the other hand, has been preserved and is even higher than the ten-year average.
    Temperature variations remain wide at the end of the season, favouring aromatic and phenolic ripening.
    The characteristics of the coming vintage are beginning to take shape...
    On the eve of the harvest, the state of health of the vines remains good, even if vigilance is required after another storm accompanied by hail in mid-August.

    The harvest

    Harvesting began on 21 August for the Pinot Gris at Reuilly. Sauvignon is harvested from 28 August in the earliest parcels, followed by the red varieties.
    The 1st week of picking was marked by temperatures below seasonal normals. Temperature variations remained very favourable for
    aromatic and phenolic maturation. A serene start to the harvest. We don't hesitate to let several days elapse between picking the different plots.
    The 2nd week was marked by another heatwave. The grapes were suffering.
    The bunches lost weight through evaporation, and the sugar potential increased very rapidly. This episode had an impact on the volume of the harvest, particularly for the reds. Initially, harvesting was hastened and reorganised, with night-time or early-morning harvesting becoming the rule.
    Apart from the Châteaumeillant AOC, harvesting in the Vignobles du Centre region was completed in the 2nd dekad of September.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The wines are remarkably full-bodied and concentrated.
    The white wines are still a little shy, distilling notes of white fruit. Pear and white peach stand out, complemented by hints of aniseed and liquorice.
    The palate has superb expression, with different balances depending on the date of harvest: the first grapes harvested give more incisive wines, then as maturation progresses, the fatness develops and increases.
    The rosés have a deep colour. The aromas of fresh red fruit are fully expressed. The balance on the palate is marked by freshness.
    The reds are deep ruby with varying shades of violet. The noses are complex, combining fresh red fruit with more candied fruit aromas. The vatting and extractions, which are well adapted to the characteristics of the vintage, give structured mouth-feel, supported by well-coated tannins. Although the welcome acidity at this stage means that the tannins are sometimes a little firm, malolactic fermentation and ageing will help to harmonise the whole.
    A vintage full of promise.

    Fabrice DOUCET (SICAVAC)

  • 2019 : ELEGANCE AND CONCENTRATION

    Once again, the vines have managed to cope with a particularly dry year, accentuated by several heatwaves. While the season was hard on the vegetation, it was also hard on the men and women working in the vineyards, but the results are full of promise.

    The wine-growing countryside

    Winter 2019 was one of the mildest on record. Despite a January in line with the season, February was historically mild from the 13th to the 28th; the other major feature of this winter was rainfall: a deficit of -30% compared with the norm.

    Spring, like February, alternates between warm, sunny spells and more unsettled, and at times unseasonably cool, weather. So April is split in two. A cool 1st part, marked by several nights of frost, which slowed the development of vegetation, and a milder 2nd part. Under these conditions, the vegetative cycle began in mid-April, but was accompanied by particularly cold temperatures between the 11th and 15th. Temperatures of -4°C were regularly recorded at bud level. Once again, every effort was made to limit the destruction of buds.

    Fortunately, the 4 nights of frost caused very little damage, as the air and soil remained dry. Only the Châteaumeillant vineyard was affected, where the damage was significant and brought back bad memories (see 2017 vintage).

    The sharp rise in temperatures in the last ten days of April enabled the vines to develop rapidly. The alternation of frost and high temperatures compensated for each other: April temperatures were finally average.

    May turned out to be more exceptional: it was cold! Temperatures were cool throughout the month (2°C below average). Vine growth was sluggish, with pale leaves. The rainfall deficit remained high, at -40% in May. Nevertheless, these conditions were very unfavourable for downy mildew. Protection against this parasite did not begin until the last ten days of May.

    June began with milder temperatures and a few rainy spells. Vine growth accelerated, and vineyard operations followed suit. Downy mildew pressure remains exceptionally low, unlike powdery mildew, where vigilance is required in areas with a long history.

    By 15 June, the first flowers were visible. However, flowering did not really start in the vineyards until around the 20th, progressing slowly at first due to the relatively cool temperatures for the season. They turned summery from 24 June onwards and flowering rapidly came to an end. The consequences of this 1st heatwave were quickly apparent: coulure and millerandage were significant.

    The summer of 2019 has been marked by a succession of heatwaves and a lack of rain, -60% compared with seasonal normals! Foliage in several areas showed symptoms of drought. After a record 1st heatwave in June, a new episode arrived at the end of July. It was particularly intense, with temperatures of 40°C recorded in the vineyards. Of course, such heat has an impact on the vines and grapes: a lot of scald damage is visible. The extent of this damage varies depending on the grape variety, the orientation of the vineyard...

    The Châteaumeillant vineyards were once again badly hit by events, with stormy showers in the last few days of July, accompanied by hail, regularly causing damage to bunches and foliage.

    Veraison began in the 1st decade of August. Slowed by the very dry conditions, the grapes ripened slowly but with very good health.

    Maturation

    This 1st part of the cycle was marked at the end of August by another heatwave, with temperatures of over 30°C. Once again, scorch marks were observed on the grapes. In September, ripening took place under optimal conditions. The mornings were cool and the afternoons mild to hot. There was a wide temperature range, favouring aromatic and phenolic ripening. The bunches continued to grow despite the absence of rain. The accumulation of sugars in the berries is progressing well. Acids are being preserved. Tastings of the grapes show great potential, but also suggest that we need to wait for sufficiently high sugar levels to achieve the desired aromas of fresh ripe fruit.

    The health of the grapes is irreproachable at the dawn of the harvest.

    The harvest

    In the end, the ripening cycle was shorter in this vintage. Harvesting began on 5 September for Pinot Gris in Reuilly. Sauvignon Blanc is harvested from 16 September for the other appellations, followed by the red varieties.

    The 1st part of the harvest was marked by dry weather and above normal temperatures, followed by the return of rain from 24 September. This did nothing to dampen the spirits of the winegrowers, who all agreed that the rain was a welcome relief from the surface drought.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The wines of the 2019 vintage are expressive. Aromatic purity will be one of their hallmarks.

    The whites offer a nose with notes of white-fleshed fruit, complemented by a fine range of citrus fruits. Sweetness and freshness mingle. The palate is full and crisp, resting on a mineral base. They combine substance and elegance.

    The rosés are deep in colour. Fruity aromas dominate (blood orange, raspberry), in harmony with the right liveliness.

    The reds offer good potential. The wines have a lovely ruby colour, with supple tannins and a pleasant freshness. The aromas of fresh red fruit are delicious.

    The 2019 vintage: a great success which confirms that terroir is essential.

  • 2018 : A YEAR OF RECORDS

    2018, an early and singular vintage that defied the weather.
    It was built under extreme and exceptional weather conditions: record spring rains and a scorching summer.

    The wine-growing countryside

    It was a gloomy winter, with little sunshine and plenty of rain.
    Spring will begin as winter ended, in the rain. The long-awaited improvement in the weather is not going to happen. The 1st ten days of March were cool, even cold. After a slight lull in February, rainfall was once again heavily in excess. Unlike in 2017, nature did not seem to want to get carried away.
    April was marked by exceptionally warm weather. Conditions were ideal for the vines to start budding around mid-April.
    From that date onwards, the weather took a turn for the worse: temperatures soared. The period from 18 to 22 April was marked by an early episode of intense heat, with mild night-time temperatures and exceptionally hot days. April 21 will be the hottest day on record for a month.
    In the space of a few days, not only has the delay to the 2017 vintage been made up, but it has even been brought forward by several days.
    The end of April sees the return of colder temperatures. The painful memories of the frosts of April 2016 and 2017 resurface. Men and women are preparing for another battle against the elements. But this time it won't be: a critical step has just been taken.
    May also saw a succession of rainy periods, which were highly favourable to mildew. All the vineyards were affected, although in most cases the intensity of the attacks remained low.
    The initial assessment is that there will be no shortage of water. The year is shaping up to be a record one in terms of rainfall, with accumulations close to the annual average in some wine-growing areas.
    Flowering took place in the first few days of June in good weather conditions. The advance is confirmed: 2018 will be an early vintage.
    The weather changes radically from mid-June onwards. Summer weather set in, sometimes reaching scorching levels. This marked the start of a new wine-growing season. July continued in the same vein, with temperatures well above seasonal normals.
    The summer of 2018 is the hottest since the heatwave of 2003.
    Prolonged drought is the other feature of summer 2018, the driest since 1945. This shortfall in rainfall will be the best remedy for the downy mildew epidemic that seemed inevitable.
    The end of the campaign was calmer, even though some symptoms of drought appeared on the most sensitive vines. In the vast majority of cases, the soils are still moist and the water supply to the vines is satisfactory.
    Under these conditions, veraison began in the last few days of July in the earliest plots. However, since growth had not completely stopped, veraison got off to a slow start.

    Maturation

    Maturation took place in summer conditions. Water reserves allowed the grapes to get through this period without difficulty, except in a few areas or parcels with very poor soils or shallow roots. Afterwards, the much-maligned rainy spring was beneficial. This heatwave during the ripening period resulted in a breakdown of the malic acid. It also ensures the absence of vegetal flavours. Sugar levels are progressing at a good pace. The characteristics of the coming vintage are beginning to emerge.
    The morale of the winegrowers is good, but the possible impact of the lack of rain on the weight of the bunches is on everyone's minds.

    The harvest

    The weather conditions in September enabled the quality potential of the harvest to be maintained, with no deterioration to be feared. This gave us the opportunity to wait for each plot to reach optimum ripeness.
    The early harvest was announced, and will begin in the last days of August for the Pinot Gris at Reuilly. The reds will be picked from 5 September. The high temperatures at the start of the month caused the berries to shrivel and the sugar concentration of the red grapes to rise rapidly. The pace of harvesting accelerated.
    The Sauvignon grapes are harvested from 10 September. Harvesting is spread across the vineyards of the Centre-Loire region, depending on the degree of ripeness blockage observed and the harvest potential.
    Another highlight was that the harvest took place during an exceptionally sunny September, the first since 2003.
    It was also accompanied by temperatures well above seasonal normals, regularly exceeding 28, 29°C. The afternoon heat overwhelmed both grapes and people. The estates reorganised their harvesting operations, with night-time or early morning harvests becoming the norm.

    First impressions of the vintage

    2018 has all the hallmarks of a sunny vintage.
    The white wines, which are still a little shy, give off notes reminiscent of fruit: pear and tangerine stand out clearly. The palate is supple and airy, oscillating between sweetness and freshness. The aromatic precision is already there. The texture on the palate needs to be refined, but the whole is already seductive.
    A little patience will be required.
    The rosés have a deep colour. The aromas of fresh red fruit are fully expressed. The palate is greedy and refreshing.
    The reds are both powerful and easy to digest. They have deep ruby colours with hints of violet. Ripe red fruit dominates, mingled with spicy notes that ensure the freshness characteristic of Loire red wines. The palate is well-structured, with well-coated tannins.

    In conclusion, the 2018 vintage will be one of elegance.

  • 2017: A VINTAGE OF CONTRASTS

    The 2017 vintage will be another in the series of early vintages.

    With temperatures at the end of winter worthy of a late spring, nature went into overdrive. This lead will be maintained right through to the harvest, despite a wine-growing season marked by contrasting weather conditions from month to month and from sector to sector.

    The wine-growing countryside

    Winter 2017 was characterised by cold, dry weather. There was a significant shortfall in rainfall (-60% compared with normal). Temperatures were more mixed. Below seasonal normals in January, they began to rise again in February as a prelude to a remarkably warm spring. By the end of March and the first ten days of April, temperatures were on a par with mid-May. Vegetation took off and the vines began to show their buds in the very first days of April, 8 to 10 days ahead of the ten-year average.

    The second half of April was unfortunately marked by a cold spell. Winegrowers spent more than a dozen nights fighting against the frost. Temperatures dipped to -5°C. The battle was unequal.

    The Centre-Loire vineyards, like all other French vineyards, are still paying a heavy price. The damage was irregular, but all the vineyards were affected. Châteaumeillant was completely devastated, while Pouilly-Fumé was once again hit hard.

    April will be remembered as a historic month in terms of frosts, but also for its very low rainfall (-70% compared with normal). Once again, the men and women of the vineyard have picked themselves up and carried on with their work.

    While 2016 saw record rainfall, May 2017 was dry. The first dekad was grey and cold, but the last was quite the opposite, with record temperatures on 27 and 28 May.

    These conditions are favourable for vine growth. The vines will therefore develop rapidly. The weather dictated a steady pace: the winegrowers had to be present. The work in the vineyards continued without a break. The frozen vines were catching up.

    Downy mildew made a rather timid appearance at the end of May. Powdery mildew was very discreet. Favourable weather in winter and spring, followed by rapid vine growth, kept the dangers at bay. Once again, a real contrast with last season, showing that the climate is not always ungrateful.

    Flowering took place in the first few days of June under favourable weather conditions: fairly warm, with little rainfall. The phenological stages progressed rapidly, with ripening expected to be uniform.

    A heatwave then set in from 10 to 25 June. Temperatures regularly exceeded 30°C for 15 days. This was accompanied by a significant water deficit (-40% compared with normal). Although the situation was not critical, it was becoming worrying. Vine growth was slowing down.

    The heat continued throughout July, with two peaks between 4 and 7 July and 17 and 19 July. Rainfall varied greatly from one area to another, with most of it in the form of thundery showers, sometimes accompanied by hail. This will also have an impact on production potential.

    These rainy spells provided the water many people were hoping for, but in the areas that were spared, symptoms of water stress are being observed.

    In these contrasting conditions, veraison began in the early days of August. However, as growth had not completely stopped, veraison got off to a slow start.

    Maturation

    The ripening process took place in special weather conditions. August was marked by alternating light rain and sunny conditions, with a scorching end to the month.

    These conditions ensure that the berries swell and load up on sugars. The few days of hot weather break down the acids and ensure the absence of vegetal flavours. The nights remain cool, preserving the fruitiness.

    In some areas that had already received little water during the season, the need for water was felt. On the other hand, in areas that have had a good supply of water, some berries are ejected, cracked or nibbled by wasps.

    leading to fears of rot developing. Every day, the level of vigilance rises a notch, as does the level of concern among winegrowers and technicians.

    Autumn then arrives suddenly in September, with cooler temperatures. This return to more normal conditions allowed the grapes to stabilise and await optimum ripeness.

    The harvest

    After a carefully monitored ripening period, the mood at the start of the harvest was tense. Harvesting began in the last days of August for Pinot Gris in Reuilly. The Sauvignon Blanc is harvested from 12 September for the other appellations. Most of the red grape varieties are picked between 19 and 22 September.

    Once again, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were present, offering excellent flavour and health. For the reds, the situation is more mixed, with sorting necessary to maintain the quality of the wines.

    The last pruning strokes were made in October. This was one of the rare occasions when the harvest in the Centre-Loire was spread over 3 months.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The white wines are very elegant. Notes of citrus and white-fleshed fruit are well represented. Minerality and hints of liquorice round off the ensemble. The palate is full-bodied, rounded and fresh.

    Rosés are generally quite pale in colour. Notes of grapefruit and blood orange dominate, in perfect harmony with a lively mouthfeel.

    The red wines have an intense colour. Notes of red berries make up the aromatic profile. The vatting and extractions were well adapted to the characteristics of the vintage, resulting in good, measured, supple tannins.

    All in all, a delicious 2017 vintage.

    Fabrice DOUCET (SICAVAC)

    Press contact: Benoit ROUMET - benoit.roumet@vins-centre-loire.com

  • 2016: A FINE REWARD

    The 2016 vintage was a tough one for the winegrowers! The weather conditions were difficult: rain, humidity, frost, scalding, etc. It took a great deal of self-control on the part of the men and women in the vineyard to manage, thanks to a small burst of nature, to produce a very fine vintage.

    The wine-growing countryside

    Winter 2016 was marked by excessively mild weather and equally excessive rainfall. It only showed its face on two occasions: during the Saint-Vincent celebrations and in the first two weeks of March. It ended like winter 2015, with no frost days. Winter rainfall was in excess in every month.

    The vegetative cycle got off to a late start in April, which was marked by alternating mild and cold spells. From 18 April, the vines were exposed to sub-zero temperatures at night. The night of 26 to 27 April caused the worst damage. Different weather conditions were observed. In some cases, it rained the day before, moistening the buds and making them even more sensitive to the low temperatures.

    The damage is difficult to estimate, but we all know that it will be significant for the Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon, Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy and, to a lesser extent, Sancerre appellations.

    May got off to a cool start and finished coolly. Above all, it will be remembered as an exceptionally wet month (+115% of rainfall), making access to the plots particularly difficult. The first few days of June were very cool and wet, followed by a period of calm from 5 to 9 June and then another spell of unsettled weather. These weather conditions were obviously favourable to the development of disease, particularly downy mildew. The weather is stressful for the vines and for those who grow them.

    Flowering began in the 2nd half of June, with weather conditions that remained difficult, accentuating the phenomena of coulure and millerandage. On 23 June, the sun came out again, temperatures were warm and flowering proceeded rapidly in fairly favourable weather conditions.

    Summer seemed to be settling in. The rain stopped. In July and August, cumulative rainfall was 90% below the average for the last thirty years. The temperature rose from July 15 onwards, with a fairly late heatwave at the end of August. This heatwave also left its mark, with the first symptoms of water stress being observed at the end of August.

    August, with scalding in particular.

    The grapes began to change colour in the 2nd half of August. The very dry conditions slowed down the ripening process, but the health of the grapes was very good.

    Maturation

    September got off to a summery start, with sunshine and high temperatures (over 30°C). The temperature variations between day and night were conducive to phenolic ripeness and aromatic ripeness, with the range of vegetal flavours being broadened. The lack of water is starting to make itself felt.

    The winegrowers hardly dare to complain and ask for a little rain. This happened on 14 and 16 September, a minor miracle in a difficult year. The berries were finally growing. The production of sugars continued, while the reduction in acids was contained.

    Cool nights and sunny days provided perfect conditions for ripening, allowing the winemakers to wait until the whites and reds reached optimum maturity.

    The harvest

    Harvesting begins on 21 September for the Pinot Gris in Reuilly. Sauvignon Blanc is harvested from 3 October for the other appellations. Most of the red grape varieties are harvested between 10 and 17 October.

    There was no rain during the harvest, and for the 4th month in a row, there was a shortfall in rainfall. The cool mornings will be a feature of this harvest.

    First impressions of the vintage

    Like the 2015 vintage, the wines of the 2016 vintage have a beautiful aromatic purity.

    Like all late vintages, the wine is fresh and crisp on the palate. The nose, still a little tentative, suggests notes of white flowers and white-fleshed fruit on a mineral base.

    Once again, the rosés are deep in colour. Fruity aromas dominate (blood orange, raspberry).

    The reds are the surprise of the vintage. Deep red, intense colours. They reveal aromas of red fruit (blackcurrant, raspberry) mixed with floral notes. Fresh on the palate, with velvety tannins.

    The highlights of 2016 were the frost and the quality of the wines produced. The story has a happy ending in Centre-Loire.

  • 2015: HOT AND DRY FOR A PROMISING VINTAGE

    The Centre-Loire, like all northern regions, has marked vintage effects. This will be the case again in 2015, where the very special weather conditions have enabled the production of wines with very pure aromas.

    The wine-growing countryside

    Although not exceptional, the winter of 2014-2015 was one of the coldest in a hundred years. After a mild start to the winter and a significantly cooler February, but with no frost, it ended with a seasonally normal March. Above-average winter rainfall until the end of February helped to replenish the water in the soil and subsoil in early spring.

    The vegetative cycle got off to a slightly later start, quickly offset by very mild temperatures from 8 April. These favourable temperatures in April, combined with the right amount of moisture in the soil, ensured that budburst was even and frank. The sun then reigned supreme, but this was without taking into account the cool, poor weather in the last week of April. May also got off to a cool and rainy start, but from 4 May onwards, spring returned and never looked back. It was summer before its time, with little rain. A small hail storm on 20 May over part of the Sancerrois, Quincy and Reuilly areas brought back bad memories. There was some damage in Reuilly.

    Flowering began in the first half of June under very favourable conditions, with temperatures slightly above average and little rainfall. Despite this, some Sauvignon Blanc coulure was observed. A spell of rain fell on 12 and 14 June, before drought set in. Almost scorching temperatures set in during the first week of July. As a result of this drought, the first symptoms of water stress were observed in mid-July in the younger plots. In other plots, the very pale green foliage was indicative of a slowdown in development.

    The grapes began to change colour at the beginning of August, but this was slowed down by the very dry conditions. A spell of rain in mid-August put an end to this scenario. The veraison then came to a rapid end.

    In this dry climate, diseases and pests are naturally suppressed. Powdery mildew, which is present but monitored with the utmost vigilance, is well under control.

    Maturation

    The ripening conditions were very favourable. We were expecting smaller berries and lower acidity levels, given the summer weather conditions. It's a fact of the year.

    A final spell of rain at the end of August benefited the vines, which were still crying out for a little water. The berries were finally filling out. The rain barely slowed the ripening process. Sugar levels rose rapidly. The fall in acidity was contained. Technological and phenolic ripeness were reached quickly, and the health situation was exceptionally good: the harvest date could only be decided by tasting the berries and ensuring that all the elements of the grape were in harmony.

    The harvest

    The Pinot Gris in Reuilly gets off to a quiet start on 7 September. The Sauvignon is harvested from 14 September for the other appellations. Most of the red grape varieties were picked between the 17th and 20th. The light showers in September did nothing to dampen the spirits of the winegrowers. The rains even helped to refine the very thick skins.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The grape juices were beautifully pure and aromatic. This will be one of the hallmarks of the 2015 vintage.

    The white wines are elegant and generous. They reveal complex aromas of white fruit. They are dense and warm on the palate, perfectly balanced by a refreshing acidity.

    The rosé wines have deeper hues than in recent vintages, ranging from pink marble to salmon. Fruity aromas dominate (pink grapefruit, raspberry).

    The red wines have a beautiful ruby colour. They reveal aromas of fresh fruit (strawberry, cherry, raspberry) punctuated by floral notes. The silky, round tannins reflect a fine maturity, offering freshness and elegance.

    2015 is a fine vintage, already very tasty, and like all sunny vintages will retain its youthful character for a long time to come.

  • 2014: A VINTAGE WITH CHARACTER

    Paradoxically, the climatic gap between the seasons has resulted in a 2014 vintage with great potential. The superb after-season was as exceptional as it was unexpected, giving the wines all their qualities of finesse and power.

    The wine-growing countryside

    2014 was characterised by a long growing season. A mild end to the winter and a dry month of March meant that the soil warmed up early, speeding up the start of vegetation. Bud burst occurred in the first few days of April. Then, apart from the period from 6 to 13 June and the second half of July, the year was cold until the end of August. As a result, the vines lagged behind throughout the season: while they had a 10-day lead at bud-break, this fell to 3 days at flowering, which was nonetheless rapid and uniform, and ended up 4 days behind at veraison. As far as rainfall is concerned, 2014 can be divided into three phases: rather dry from March to mid-July, then very rainy until 25 August and finally a return to drought, favouring the establishment of a gradual and moderate water stress. Cryptogamic diseases were moderately virulent. Powdery mildew was seen in unusual areas, while the risk of downy mildew lasted until the beginning of August. Little damage was reported. Grey rot (botrytis) was virtually non-existent. Only acid rot forced sorting in the few plots affected.
    Fortunately, September brought a new lease of life to the vintage, with moderate heat during the day, relatively cool nights and drought interspersed with occasional light rain.

    Maturation

    The excellent weather conditions in the latter part of the season were responsible for a slow ripening process during which each element fell into place harmoniously. With plenty of sunshine, the warm days increased the sugar content, while the cool nights preserved the fruitiness and slowed the reduction in acidity, which was very high to begin with. With good sugar levels everywhere, it was malic acidity and berry tasting that guided the monitoring of ripening; we had to be patient to reach the right level. 2014 is one of those remarkable years when both sugar and acidity are high and perfectly balanced.
    The aromas and colour in the healthy, thick skins also developed in the best possible conditions. The good sanitary conditions produced very pure musts.

    The harvest

    The winegrowers showed great skill in determining the harvest date. On the one hand, they were able to observe the ripening of their plots with precision so as to harvest each one at the best possible time, an exercise made all the more complicated by the fact that the grapes did not develop in the usual order. On the other hand, while the weather was fine, they had the wisdom to wait for the grapes to reach optimum ripeness, taking the risk of a possible deterioration in the climate. As a result, harvesting began sporadically for Pinot Gris at Reuilly on September 15 and for Sauvignon at Sancerre on September 18. The bulk of the harvest began on 29 September and finished between 6 and 11 October. Most of the reds were picked before 5 October. The last bunches were picked on 13 October.

    First impressions of the vintage

    Like the thick skins of the berries, the wines reveal consistency and density. High acidity often remains discreet on the palate because it is balanced, or even masked, by the natural richness.
    The white wines reveal promising aromas. Their finesse and complexity are already apparent: fruity notes (pear, peach, exotic fruit), hints of fresh herbs and sometimes even delicate mineral touches. On the palate, the balance is marked by tension. The often pronounced nervousness is well counterbalanced by the fleshiness, giving sensations of fullness and power. With a lingering finish, the 2014 whites have real ageing potential.
    Depending on the terroir, they should begin to reach their full expression after 8 to 15 months of ageing. Lovers of older vintages may even want to give them a decade or two before appreciating their great ageing qualities.
    Rosés are generally pale, salmon-coloured with varying shades of coral. Fruity aromas (strawberry, raspberry, banana) dominate. The palate is lively and fresh. They should hold up well. The reds are beautifully coloured, with bright ruby highlights and purple tints. Still closed, the red fruit aromas (Morello cherry, raspberry) are typical and elegant. The measured tannins fill the mouth, although they are exacerbated by the acidity at this stage, when malolactic fermentation has not yet taken place. The fatness shines through in the background and will eventually take its rightful place as the wine ages.

  • 2013: A THOUSAND YEARS OF WAITING

    With a long, late vegetative cycle, a harvest date not seen for more than 20 years, and wines that will only express all their qualities after a few months of ageing, 2013 is a vintage to look forward to, and one that should come as a welcome surprise.

    The wine-growing countryside

    A cold year, 2013 was a late one. Until 10 April, temperatures well below normal did not allow any vegetative activity. Budburst was around ten days late. The cold, wet spring increased the delay in vegetation, which reached 2 weeks at flowering. The resulting coulure and millerandage explain the small size of the bunches at harvest, mainly in white. This was followed by a long period, from 20 June to mid-September, marked by drought and very high temperatures in July. Cryptogamic diseases, mildew and powdery mildew, were relatively well contained. The water reserves accumulated in the soil were used by the vines, which did not suffer from excessive water stress, except in a few areas where ripening began to be blocked. Mild, wet weather then set in for 20 days, until 9 October. The wine-growing season ended on a cooler note, still marked by humidity.

    Maturation

    Some rain in the second half of September accelerated the accumulation of sugars, while the cool temperatures caused total acidity to fall slowly. The mild weather at the end of September kick-started the ripening process: sugars concentrated, acidity fell and aromas were refined. It was also favourable to the development of botrytis. As the skins of Sauvignon Blanc grapes are thick, botrytis took root in its noble form. Traditionally, this development is sought after in late years like 2013, as it improves the quality of the wines, increasing their fatness and aromatic finesse.
    At times, and especially on certain filtering soils, the deterioration in health could have led to taste deviations; the white musts had to be purified more thoroughly and the red grapes sorted, which fortunately were only slightly affected.
    Sugar production remained high right up to the end of the harvest. Acidity levels, which were a little high at the start, balanced out very well from 7 October onwards.

    The harvest

    The harvest got off to a slow start. The pinot gris at Reuilly was harvested from 26 September. In Sancerre, the earliest plots were picked from 2 October. Across the vineyards of the Centre-Loire region, the pace of harvesting gradually quickened, with the majority of grapes being picked between 7 and 19 October. The good equipment on the farms meant that the grapes could be picked quickly at the optimum time, and then vinified in the best possible conditions.

    First impressions of the vintage

    Like all wines from long, late-ripening vintages, the 2013s are often austere in their youth.
    The white wines are still closed. Floral aromas dominate; they may be mixed with vegetal or fruity notes. Depending on the origin and date of harvest, their balance on the palate is characterised by a tender freshness or a more or less pronounced nervousness. Experience has taught us that this style of wine always gains in quality as it ages: the acidity sometimes makes them more difficult to drink in the first few months, but it is an asset to their development.
    The red wines have an intense colour. The fruity aromas (raspberry, blackberry) are nuanced with floral touches (peony). Analytical knowledge of the polyphenol composition of the grapes and taste monitoring during vatting have enabled us to control extractions and obtain very good, measured and supple tannins.

  • 2012: FULL-BODIED, WELL-BRED WINES

    The wine-growing countryside

    In a dry and relatively mild winter in 2011-2012, the only significant cold spell occurred in the first half of February, resulting in the destruction of a few buds.
    Budburst was early, from late March to early April. The change in climate from 10 April onwards led to a long period of three months of generally cold and wet weather.
    Some buds froze again in April. Little by little, the early-season lead was lost.
    Flowering took place around a week late, over three weeks. Coulure and millerandage occurred irregularly. The reds were quite badly affected, while the whites held up well. Pressure from fungal diseases, mildew and powdery mildew, was high but well controlled overall.
    A new climate inversion occurred in mid-July with the end of the rainfall. From 10 August, temperatures returned to above-normal levels. These weather conditions arrived just at the right time to stop the growth of the shoots and speed up and tighten up veraison.
    The drought lasted until 20 September, when ripening began to stall in young plots on sensitive soils. Between 21 and 27 September, heavy rainfall (50 to 60 mm) came at just the right time to kick-start ripening.

    Maturation

    The ripening conditions were very favourable. The drought allowed the grapes to concentrate their sugars. This development was halted by rain during the last few days of the harvest. The cool nights preserved the fleshiness and acidity (high levels of tartaric acid and normal levels of malic acid), while the aromas developed slowly and with great finesse.
    The sunshine was beneficial for the colour and tannins of the reds, but also for the aromas. Thanks to the thick skins, the health of the grapes remained excellent, giving the winemakers all the peace of mind they needed to wait for the grapes to ripen.

    The harvest

    The spread of flowering was matched by maturity. Reuilly began the campaign on the 15th.
    September by the pinots gris. The earliest-ripening plots in Sancerre were harvested from 20 September onwards, but it was not until 1 October that the harvest really began in all the vineyards of the Centre-Loire region.
    Precise monitoring of technological, aromatic and phenolic maturation, plot by plot, is now well established. As a result, many winegrowers have harvested their grapes on a discontinuous basis, in line with the different development of their terroirs.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The wines display remarkable fullness and concentration. The mouths are superb, with different balances depending on the date of harvest: the first grapes harvested give more incisive wines, then as maturation progresses, the fatness develops and increases.
    The whites exude superb aromas. Well-crafted, they are both delicate and complex. Hints of white flowers and fresh fruit dominate. They may be enhanced by spicy notes or subtle vegetal hints. The whites are pure, fresh and full-bodied.
    The reds are deep ruby with varying shades of violet. With the
    The tannins are measured. The luscious fruitiness of the grapes is reflected in the wines, which, depending on their origin, are dense to sappy on the palate.

  • 2011: AN UNUSUAL AND PARADOXICAL CLIMATE FOR TYPICAL WINES

    Summer in spring and autumn in summer: unusual and paradoxical, such was the climate during the 2011 wine-growing season. After very rapid growth in April and May through to flowering, the vines returned to their normal rhythm of development and ripening of the grapes. The vintage was undoubtedly one of the earliest since the famous 1893.
    Despite this climate, the wines are typical. Supple and full-bodied on the palate, they retain the freshness of the fruit.
    characteristic of the Centre-Loire region. Their aromas are well-crafted. The 2011s have the potential to develop and blossom with months of ageing.

    The wine-growing countryside

    A mild end to the winter led to early budburst, starting in the first week of April. The very warm (+2.7°C in April and May) and dry spring (65% rainfall deficit) led to an acceleration in vine growth, with vegetative stages following one another at a frenetic pace: 53 days elapsed between bud-break and flowering, compared with an average of 65 days. Flowering was rapid. It took place 3 weeks early and finished in the last days of May.
    The climate then reversed, becoming colder, especially between 14 July and 15 August, and wetter, much to the benefit of the grapes, which were beginning to suffer from this 'arrhythmia'.
    The vines recovered, soaking up the water they had been lacking and returning to normal. The ripening period was warmer and punctuated by localised rainstorms which accelerated the development of the grapes, sometimes causing health problems.
    Apart from the hail that seriously affected a whole sector of the Quincy vineyard on 2 May, the weather did not pose much of a threat to the harvest. The main vine diseases, downy mildew and powdery mildew, were mild and only required a small number of interventions.

    Maturation

    The earliness of the year and the good health of the foliage were the first indicators of the high quality potential. Despite the earliness, ripening was slow. Patience was required, which meant not only monitoring the balance of sugars and acids, which was easily achieved, but also tasting the berries to assess their aromatic ripeness. This was made possible by the fact that the health of the grapes remained good overall, except in around 10 % of the plots where botrytis appeared and gave cause for concern. Where the state of health had deteriorated the most, more careful settling of the must in the whites and more rigorous sorting in the reds helped to purify the harvest and maintain quality levels. In the end, the grapes were characterised by high sugar levels, though not excessive like in 2009, and rather low acidity. Thanks to the moderate temperatures for the time of year and the often overcast skies, the aromatic freshness was well preserved.

    The harvest

    The harvest lasted almost a month under clement skies. The terroirs where the lack of water had been most marked in June and July were the first to ripen. The first bunches were cut on 29 August for the white grapes in Sancerre and for the Pinot Gris in Reuilly. The whites and reds were harvested simultaneously. In all the vineyards of the Centre-Loire region, the majority of plots were harvested between 5 and 17 September, with the last ones coming in on 22 September. This is the earliest the harvest has ever been completed before the end of summer - even 2003 and 1976 were not so early.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The whites are soft, impregnated with a strong natural sweetness. They are full-bodied. Despite low acidity, they are beautifully fresh and harmonious. The aromas, which need a few months of ageing to open up, are already expressing themselves with intensity and elegance. They are dominated by nuances of white flowers and fruit (citrus, white-fleshed fruit), enhanced by hints of herbs and spices.
    The reds, with their bright colours and good intensity, are round on the palate. The aromas, evocative of fruit (Morello cherry) and flowers (peony), are expressive. They reveal well-balanced, well-distributed tannins, often firm on the finish, which will melt over time with the fatness perceived on the mid-palate.

  • 2010: A GREAT CLASSIC

    The moderately dry 2010 climate was punctuated throughout the growing season by alternating hot and cool spells. As a result, ripening, like all the other stages - budburst, flowering and veraison - got off to a slow start and was completed under optimum weather conditions. With a beautifully balanced palate combining fullness and freshness, characterised by superb fruity aromas in both white and red wines, 2010 is a great classic.

    The wine-growing countryside

    After a relatively late budburst, flowering spread over three weeks. Low temperatures in May and early June led to coulure in many areas, especially on the white grapes. The last ten days of June and the whole of July were particularly warm (+2°C compared to normal), allowing the grapes to make up for the delay in bunch closure. Then, once again, a colder climate, interspersed with fine days, set in in August and September, so that veraison was long and marked by a degree of heterogeneity. Over the whole vegetative period, the rainfall deficit was 15%. A hailstorm affected a large part of the Châteaumeillant vineyard. The other vineyards in the Centre-Loire region did not suffer any significant damage.
    Cryptogamic disease pressure was lower than in previous years. Downy mildew appeared late, while powdery mildew was a little more virulent. The relative dryness in the depths of the soil preserved the health of the crop, which remained good right up to harvest.
    The main cause for concern was wood diseases (esca, black dead arm), where symptoms appeared in high proportions, with up to 15 % of vines affected in some plots.

    Maturation

    Maturation, which was slow in its initial phase, gradually accelerated with the help of light rain and periods of higher temperatures. The last week proved decisive for the quality of the vintage. In particular, the slightly high acidities at the start were well balanced by the loss of malic acid, while sugar levels rose impressively and unexpectedly. The cool nights and warm, but not excessively hot, sunny days helped to refine the ripeness of the aromas.

    The harvest

    Most vineyards (Sancerre, Pouilly, Coteaux du Giennois, Châteaumeillant) opened the harvest on 27 September. Reuilly and Quincy opened on the 20th, while Menetou-Salon had to wait until September 29th. Harvest dates followed the flowering intervals, and virtually all the vines had been brought in by 15 October, with the very last finishing on 19 October.
    The harvest took place under clement skies, with the exception of heavy rain on 4 October, which allowed ripening to be completed in the late-ripening plots. In general, the reds were picked in the first half of the harvest, with the exception of a few who achieved very good results by postponing harvesting until the end with rigorous sorting.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The whites exude all the aromatic richness and finesse of Sauvignon Blanc, depending on their origins (soils, exposure). The surprising fruitiness of the musts is reflected in the wines: exotic fruits (passion fruit, mango), gunflint, boxwood and other vegetal nuances (rhubarb, peas, asparagus). Full-bodied and well-balanced. Underpinned by a fair amount of liveliness, they have a remarkable presence, firmness and length on the palate. Their ageing potential is unquestionable, and many will only reach their full expression after 12 to 18 months' maturing. The reds are also seductive with their intense fruitiness (strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, blackberry). On the palate, the attack is firm. The austere, sometimes vigorous tannins are well supported by fatness, giving solidity and length to the structure. Malolactic fermentation adds roundness. Elegant rather than powerful, they can be drunk early (late 2011) or kept for the densest vintages.

  • 2009: A RICH AND GENEROUS VINTAGE

    The ideal weather in August and September and the limited harvest volume mean that 2009 was a very good year.
    An exceptional vintage: the wines, with their fresh, distinguished aromas and powerful palate, reflect the remarkable natural richness of the grapes.

    The wine-growing countryside

    The main vegetative stages (budburst, flowering, veraison, ripening) took place no more than two days earlier than the average for the last fifteen vintages.
    After a cold and relatively dry winter, April began with three weeks in which temperatures were 3°C higher than usual. May was also a warm month. June and July were then in line with seasonal norms, while the higher temperatures returned from mid-August onwards. Rainfall was not excessive, but came in the form of 20-30mm thunderstorms, interrupting periods of drought. Unfortunately, all these storms were accompanied by hail, which was devastating in some areas on 7 May, 25 May and 16 July. The vineyards of Menetou-Salon, the south-western part of Sancerre, the north of Pouilly Fumé and the Nivernais part of the Coteaux du Giennois were particularly hard hit. Regular watering ensured that the soil remained sufficiently moist until veraison. Moderate, not to say ideal, water stress then gradually set in, becoming a little more pronounced towards the end of the harvest. Downy mildew, which was a threat throughout the season, remained the campaign's main concern. The dry weather in August and September preserved the excellent health of the grapes.

    Maturation

    Sugar levels rose very quickly to reach particularly high levels. As far back as winegrowers can remember, you would have to go back to the famous 1947 vintage to find such high concentrations across the whole harvest. The acids held up well, thanks in particular to the cool nights in the first half of September and the dry conditions. Only a few vintages harvested in the last few days may have lacked a little acidity. These conditions also enabled the fleshy texture of the berries to be maintained, a characteristic generally found in wines.

    The harvest

    The harvest banns were spread over almost two weeks. Reuilly and Quincy
    The first wines were released between 12 and 15 September. Pouilly-sur-Loire followed on 16 September, then Sancerre, Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant on 21 September and Menetou-Salon on 23 September. Most of the grapes were harvested between 25 September and 3 October. The last bunches were cut on 12 October.
    With the balance between sugar and acidity achieved in all situations, the main factors in the decision to harvest each plot were aromatic ripeness for the whites and phenolic ripeness for the reds, which was all the more comfortable for the winegrowers as a long-lasting anticyclone stabilised the dry climate.

    First impressions of the vintage

    A strong constitution and vinosity characterise the wines of this vintage, which will go down in history.
    The whites display restrained aromas of great finesse. Fruity notes (white-fleshed fruit, exotic fruit, for example) dominate. Floral and mineral nuances, sometimes with a hint of herbs, add to the freshness of the nose. The palate is generous, with a mellow attack, followed by fullness, fleshiness and even warmth, finishing with a balanced liveliness.
    The reds, with their deep ruby colour sometimes tinged with violet, express concentration. The nose is marked by red fruit and spicy notes. The tannins are soft-textured when the wines come from limestone terroirs or from gentle extraction, and more austere for those from clayey-limestone and clayey-siliceous terroirs, or when the macerations have been prolonged. Full-bodied and firm, these wines are ideal for laying down.

  • 2008: FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

    One of the earliest harvests in the last ten years, 2008 produced fruity, lively, fleshy wines thanks to a cool but dry summer and a superb late season.

    The wine-growing countryside

    The vegetative cycle began with a warm month of May. Temperatures were then
    generally below seasonal normals. The spring was well-watered, while from the time the grapes began to form at the end of June, rainfall became regular but low overall.
    The dates of the vine's main vegetative stages take us back to the 1980s: budburst around 25 April, followed by uninterrupted and regular growth, flowering on 20 June, which ends in three days, and veraison between 20 and 25 August.
    Thanks to monitoring methods, in particular the network of reference plots and modelling, downy mildew, despite being very virulent, was kept under control with a reduced average number of interventions.
    The grapes were perfectly healthy at harvest. Moderate bunch burst, thunderstorms accompanied by hail and coulure resulted in a smaller harvest than in previous years.

    Maturation

    The entire ripening period took place under a rare and beneficial drought. The first phase was very slow. Then it accelerated with the arrival of the mists and showers of early October. The grapes were rich in sugars, some of which reached very high concentrations. The cold nights prevented excessive malic acid degradation. They also allowed the aromas to develop favourably in both white and red wines, and reinforced the accumulation of colour in the reds.

    The harvest

    Harvesting began on 22 September in Reuilly, with Quincy starting on 29 September and Sancerre, Pouilly-sur-Loire, Menetou-Salon, Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant on 2 October.
    Most of the grapes were harvested between 6 and 15 October, with the last pruning operations taking place around 20 October. Generally speaking, the whites were harvested before the reds. Once again, the wisdom with which the winegrowers waited for the best from each plot before harvesting was evident.

    The vintage

    Distinguished by their aromas, the wines have great presence on the palate. They show
    volume and power. The whites are highly aromatic, with the full range depending on the terroir. Fruity and floral aromas are mixed with vegetal notes without excess, giving them a great deal of finesse. With their clear acidity, they are well-balanced on the palate and firm on the palate. The red wines have aromas of red fruit, particularly cherry, which were already present in the musts. These are complemented by hints of spice. The colour is a beautiful, deep ruby with varying shades of violet. The tannins are of excellent quality.

  • 2007: AROMAS AND FIRMNESS

    A hot spring and a cool summer, seasonal inversions, have marked the year's climate. Fortunately, the last period, once again a determining factor, was exceptionally favourable: a gift from nature which gave us 29 miraculous days to ripen the grapes.

    The wine-growing countryside

    A memorably hot April, above-average temperatures and rainfall in May and June, a cool and fairly wet summer, and an ideal late season with moderate temperatures and drought: that's how the climate shaped the 2007 vintage.
    Up until the end of August, winegrowers were worried about the weather. After the early budburst, the risk of frost was feared. Work in the vineyard had to be carried out quickly because of the speed of growth of the vines, which were three weeks ahead of schedule at the beginning of June. The pressure of fungal diseases such as mildew and rot forced us to be more vigilant; on the whole, they were kept under control and had no impact on the quality of the few plots affected. In the first few days after veraison, there was a widespread fear that the grapes would not ripen properly. Then, from 24 August onwards, came what everyone had been hoping for without really believing in it: the cold, dry north wind, which cleaned up the soil and the grapes, followed by a rise in daytime temperatures, interspersed with cool nights accompanied by morning dews.

    Maturation

    Under these conditions, sugar production was accelerated and acid degradation slowed. As water uptake by the berries was well regulated by the drying out of the air and soil, concentration phenomena appeared in some plots. They became widespread in the reds from the beginning of September, affecting the intensity of their colour and the quality of their tannins.
    The aromas of the whites were gently refined during the ripening phase, which took a long time despite the earliness of the year.

    The harvest

    The harvest banns ran from 3rd to 13th September, but the plots were harvested over the course of a month, when the grapes were ready. The reds were picked first.
    The white grapes were harvested in the last three weeks of September. This particularly long period reflects the differences in flowering which were maintained until maturity and the seriousness of the winegrowers who were able to reason out the harvest date, without rushing, with skill and cool heads.

    First impressions of the vintage

    Initial tastings of the vintage's new vintages suggest that the wines are typical, with expressive aromas and a marked liveliness. Both white and red wines show excellent cellaring potential.
    The whites exude a range of intense aromas, as varied as the diversity of the terroirs. The dominant flavour is floral, accompanied by distinctly fruity, vegetal or mineral notes, depending on the origin. The balance on the palate is characterised by a strong acidity which, combined with the potential provided by the natural high sugar content of the grapes, produces wines that are both full-bodied and firm.
    The reds, with their deep ruby colour, display the lovely fruity aromas of the freshly harvested grapes. Their tannins are supple and often concentrated. After malolactic fermentation and ageing, these wines have the potential to become full-bodied and rounded.

  • 2006: FULLNESS AND ELEGANCE

    At the end of a hot, dry year marked by wide climatic variations, the vines produced grapes with excellent quality potential, which is reflected in the wines. The key to the success of the 2006 vintage was to harvest quickly.

    Climate "tremors"...

    After a dry winter, the vine's growing season got off to a welcome wet start: March and May were particularly wet. The few water reserves thus recreated in the superficial layers of the soil proved extremely useful.
    In fact, June and July were very dry and also very hot: +2°C for June and +5°C for July (compared with seasonal averages). These conditions suited the vines, which were two weeks ahead of schedule. Only the young vines between 4 and 6 years old, on the most sensitive soils, suffered from water stress.
    In August, the low temperatures (-3°C) came just at the right time to allow the vines to recover and the rainfall, which was normal for the month, was sufficient to prevent any blockages in ripening.
    Finally, September (+2.5°C) began with two weeks of very hot, dry weather, offset by a heavy thunderstorm on the 14th. The second fortnight was mild, with a few scattered showers. Vine diseases were not very virulent throughout the season and were easy to contain. As a result, the grapes were in excellent health.

    ...favourable to maturation

    Sugar formation was high while acids remained balanced. Potential alcoholic degrees rose rapidly until 14 September and then returned to normal. Acidity and pH levels remained at a good level, thanks to the stability of tartaric acid throughout the ripening process. The often overcast skies from mid-September onwards helped to preserve the intensity and freshness of the aromas.

    Rapid harvesting

    Thanks to the high-performance equipment on the farms, the grapes were brought in in record time.
    The harvest was concentrated over the 10 to 12 days that corresponded to the optimum period: before that, the grapes would not have been ripe and afterwards they would have deteriorated. Harvesting began on 11 September in Reuilly, on 13 September in Pouilly-sur-Loire and Quincy, on 15 September in Sancerre and Menetou-Salon, and on 16 September in the Coteaux du Giennois. Harvesting began in all vineyards on 18 September with Châteaumeillant. The harvest began with the white grapes. Taking advantage of the good health of the grapes, the winegrowers usually harvested the reds last.

    First impressions of the vintage

    The vintages that have completed their alcoholic fermentation provide the first indications of the vintage's style. Aromatic elegance and the right balance between roundness and freshness characterise the 2006s overall.
    The whites have intense, clean aromas. Well-ripened, they are both rich and fine. Floral and fruity notes are prominent. The palate is full, opulent and lively. The reds, dark ruby to purple in colour, are beautifully fruity, both in intensity and complexity. The tannins are well-structured and well-balanced, with plenty of body.

  • 2005: GIFTS FROM HEAVEN

    Grapes of remarkable quality made 2005 a dazzling year. All the natural conditions came together over the course of the season to give us a vintage that is already ranked among the very best.

    A climate for vines

    Warm and dry overall, the wine-growing season was punctuated by alternating periods of very hot weather and cooler spells. Well-suited to the cycle of the vine and the needs of the grape, this climate was close to ideal, apart from the sometimes violent hailstorms that punctuated the Berrichon summer.
    Very high temperatures caused the vegetative cycle to advance rapidly until the end of July, before a cool August allowed the vines to recover and enter the ripening phase without rain. The regular, moderate water deficit brought vegetative growth to an early halt. All these conditions ensured that the foliage remained in perfect working order right through to ripening, and that the grapes remained in excellent health.

    ... And for the ripening of the grapes

    This good health of the vines was combined with a particularly favourable climate to produce large quantities of sugar. The moderate temperatures had a very positive effect.
    Acidity levels were balanced and remained stable until the end of the harvest. The aromatic potential, particularly for the whites, developed slowly and fully. The colouring matter in the reds accumulated favourably, with strong skin colour and very ripe tannins.

    Early harvests

    It was with great serenity that the winegrowers approached the harvest, the dryness of the soils and the absence of any threat of rot giving them complete freedom to harvest each parcel when it reached the right stage of ripeness.
    The harvest took place in fine weather, practically "without a drop of rain". The first secateurs were used in Sancerre on 7 September, on early parcels of white grapes. The ban was proclaimed on 9 September in Reuilly, 10 September in Quincy, 15 September in Châteaumeillant, 16 September in Menetou-Salon and 17 September for Sancerre and the Coteaux du Giennois.
    Generally speaking, the whites were harvested first and most of the reds were brought in towards the end.

    First impressions of the vintage

    In both white and red wines, the elegant aromas, power and volume are evident on first tasting.
    The whites express superb aromas, intense and full of finesse: during fermentation, the dominant notes are fruity (white fruit, exotic fruit), with minerality and a few vegetal touches (liquorice) also perceptible. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and round, with a hint of firmness. The finish is very persistent.
    The reds have a deep, ruby-violet colour. The nose is reminiscent of very ripe red fruit (raspberry, blackberry). The taste structure is full-bodied, with firm tannins (on siliceous or clay soils) to silky tannins (on chalky soils).

  • 2004: THE BENEFITS OF WORKING THE VINES

    After the heatwave of 2003, 2004 saw a return to fresh, aromatic wines. The winegrower's work and know-how were essential to the success of this vintage: on the one hand, it was necessary to sacrifice part of the harvest, which promised to be generous, in order to keep only the best, and on the other hand, to vinify using all the resources of experience and oenological knowledge.

    The year of the vine

    The vine cycle was relatively late, about 8 days later than in the previous 20 years; night-time temperatures were normal and it was the daytime temperatures, which were often lower than average, that accounted for the slow vegetative growth.
    The start of the season was rather calm and serene, with a relatively dry climate and virtually no vine diseases. From mid-July onwards, a wetter climate set in, with rainfall that was often stormy. Pathogenic fungi, mildew and powdery mildew, became more of a threat, forcing winegrowers to be extremely vigilant.
    Ripening began with a very hot first fortnight in September (maximum temperatures of 25-30°C), which accelerated the development of the grapes. After that, the accumulation of sugars returned to its normal rhythm and the reduction in acidity slowed.

    The harvest

    Aware of the importance of the harvest date and despite the advanced nature of the season, the
    By taking the risk of losing part of the harvest, they optimised the quality of the grapes. Harvesting therefore began around 20 September in Reuilly and Quincy, and between 4 and 11 October in the other vineyards (Sancerre, Menetou-Salon, Coteaux du Giennois and Châteaumeillant).
    Harvesting was spread out over the whole month of October, with most vineyards taking a few days off to reach optimum ripeness in each plot. As a result, the vast majority of bunches were harvested in good condition, with the lower acidity at the end of the season offsetting the sometimes high levels at the start.
    An essential factor for quality in 2004 was the removal of surplus bunches during the year, particularly in the reds, followed by sorting at harvest and selective pressing in the whites. It was a vintage that required a great deal of attention throughout the year, both in the vineyards and in the cellar.

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