A month on from his previous report, Charles Sydney describes, in his own inimitable words, the last few weeks of the harvest in the Loire. The photos are also courtesy of Charles.
As mentioned, we're pretty gobsmacked by the quality of the Muscadets and Sauvignons - where the growers got it right, it looks like 2007 should be similar to 2002, which also relied on a sunny September to save the vintage. And it's infinitely better than we expected at the end August!
Now the reds and the Chenins are pretty well in too, with just a few rows of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Anjou and a few final selective pickings in the Layon to watch out for.
Chinon, Bourgueil, Saumur Champigny and Saint-Nicolas started [harvesting] the last week in September - perhaps a little early, and I expect better things of the wines picked early October. Surprise, surprise: Vatan, Targé, Lavigne, Couly, Joguet, Blot [Jacky Blot, pictured left] and Amirault picked later.
Although we've not got the great phenolic maturity of the 2003s or 2005s, it's pretty good, with growers picking between 11.5 and 13 [degrees Baumé, euqivalent to potential alcohol] at harvest. Again, expect wines on the lines of 2002.
The Chenins in Vouvray ripened early and then started to rot, so needed to be picked quickly. Although there are only a few moelleux [sweet wines], there will be plenty of fresh sec-tendres [off dry wines] with loads of pure fruit.
As for the Layon, well ... a great September and a nicely autumnal few days early October were followed by sunshine and cooler weather and we've got botrytis setting in (see right) and great concentration where growers are happy to tri [selectively pick the grapes] ...
So much so that some of the guys are praying for rain to keep degrees [ie sugar levels] down at a 'sensible' level and quantities up a bit!