Loire Valley

2013 

An annus horribilis for the producers of Vouvray and Montlouis whose crops were almost entirely wiped out by a June hailstorm. Elsewhere a sound vintage with good acidity, though the cool spring and mild conditions in August and September meant many reds struggled to achieve full ripeness.

2012 

Despite a challenging growing season, 2012 was the year that Muscadet really shone, producing some of the best examples ever. Yields were around half the average, however. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé fared better for whites and reds, with good, uniform ripeness, no rot, and yield in line with the norm. Delayed flowering early in the season proved tricky for Cabernet Franc, because autumnal rains made for diluted fruit as growers waited for ripeness. There were very few botrytised Chenins made in Anjou, Vouvray and Montlouis, but dry wines are promising in a lighter style.

2011 

Pretty rotten. Muscadet and Touraine were both blighted with fungal disease. Cabernet Franc only flourished in the best sites and with suitable selection. Chenin Blanc had a much better year, with Anjou and Coteaux du Layon being particularly impressive.

2010 

Good ripeness and concentration for Muscadet. Delightful Sauvignons too with good concentration and freshness. Late September rain created a bit of rot for the Cabernet Franc, with only the bravest growers waiting for full ripeness to occur – which it did, thanks to two lucky weeks of late sunshine. Chenins fared better in Cotreux du Layon than Vouvray, with the full range of sweetness being made.

2009 

A great vintage. Healthy fruit in Muscadet produced superb quality, especially from those growers prepared to keep yields under control. Touraine Sauvignon Blanc performed similarly well, with full phenolic ripeness and very little chaptalisation requirement, if any. Yields were slightly reduced in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, and some July hail decimated much of Quincy, Reuilly and Coteaux du Giennois - but what was produced is excellent. Cabernet Franc enjoyed a late, dry harvest to make fully ripe reds, and Chenin was also very promising, although there botrytis was scarce.

2008 

A bad start to the growing year – cold and wet in early summer – with a dry but still cool July and August. Frost in Muscadet devastated yields, making for a very hard year for all growers. Sauvignon across the Loire experienced lower yields too, but displays good varietal typicality.

2007 

Early flowering then a cool, wet summer led to a very uneven vintage, although a dry, warm September helped rescue quality. Even so, rot was a problem and required meticulous selection to avoid. Despite that, results were surprisingly good, with dry whites from all varieties performing especially well.

2006 

Very difficult: a July heatwave was followed by cold, wet weather for the rest of the season. Not a write-off, but certainly not a good year.

2005 

Hot, dry and very good quality. A certain degree of drought meant reduced yields, but cool nights retained freshness, and an early vintage led to fine, healthy grapes at harvest. Especially good in Savennières.

2004 

High yields, with good uniform ripeness and good concentration. Nothing to get unduly excited about, but reliable and classic.

2003 

A famously atypical vintage across Europe, which resulted in a great harvest in the Loire. Muscadet is rich and full, but with good natural balance. Cabernet Franc reached full ripeness with ease, giving particularly expressive fruit character. Chenin Blanc was similarly generous, although there was less botrytis than normal. Perhaps the only casualty was Sauvignon Blanc, which was routinely reaching 14% alcohol, resulting in overripe wines without their usual delicacy.

2002 

A successful if somewhat cool year, characterised by classic balance and structure for all varieties. The opposite in style to the opulent 2003.

2001 

Good for Muscadet, but bad for Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé where late rain caused rot. Anjou enjoyed fine, late summer warmth allowing the production of particularly good sweet wines.

2000 

Despite a wet July, quality turned out very well for dry whites and reds. Yields were marginally below average, and there was insufficient ripeness to create any moelleux styles.

For pre-2000 vintages, see Jim Budd's excellent free blog, here.