In many parts of the Loire Valley , producers attest to a complicated 2023 vintage. While many producers began picking at the beginning of September, the harvest will continue into October.
It has been especially difficult in Anjou, and far from easy in Saumur and Touraine . However, it has been considerably less difficult in Sancerre , Pouilly and the Upper Loire.
It is challenging to succinctly sum up a vintage such as 2023, as it is very variable depending on the grape variety and the sector. For instance, there has been a good harvest in Azay-le-Rideau, but a more complicated one in nearby Chinon, despite their proximity. Even within the same parcel of vines there can be considerable differences.
The growing season
Overall, 2023 is a potentially very large vintage but likely to be of variable quality – a year when producers have faced challenges during the growing season.
Fortunately there was no serious frost this year. Bud break brought a large volume of potential grapes, and this was confirmed by a rapid flowering in dry and sunny conditions at the end of May and the first part of June. Later on in June is when the strong mildew pressure started, so it was essential to spray against it regularly and at exactly the right moment.
The most successful parts of the Loire this year are at the two extremes – the Pays Nantais (which encompasses the Muscadet appellations) in the west, and the Central and Upper Loire (which takes in Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and some of the lesser known appellations such as the Côte Roannaise) to the east.
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Because the Melon de Bourgogne variety is early ripening, Muscadet producers were able to pick during the heatwave at the beginning of September before the heavy rains started midway through the month.
Vincent Lieubeau, winemaker at Famille Lieubeau in the Pays Nantais, said: ‘We started harvesting on 4 September during the hot weather. Our Muscadet is very good and concentrated, as the potential alcohol rose by nearly two degrees in just one week due to the heat. The yield is around 50hl/ha with 11.8% alcohol’.
Central and Upper Loire
In the Central Loire, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé it was very dry during late July and August, so producers welcomed the September rains that brought their grapes to maturity and swelled them. There was, however, a violent storm on 17 September which brought down trees in a campsite in Saint-Satur, meaning many of the picking staff had to find new accommodation – an additional pressure on producers.
Vincent Grall, of his eponymous domaine in Sancerre, said: ‘Picking started on 8 September, but it is difficult to find pickers. Our Sauvignon is around 12.5% ??potential alcohol.’
Benoit Fouassier, of Domaine Fouassier in Sancerre, said: ‘We started picking on 13 September. The Pinot Noir is fully ripe at between 14%-15.5% alcohol and our Sauvignon between 13%-14%.’
In the Upper Loire, Romain Paire, of Domaine des Pothiers in the Côte Roannaise, said: ‘We started picking on Tuesday 12 September. Rain on that Thursday swelled the grapes, giving us fully ripe fruit.’
In Saint-Pourçain, Domaine des Bérioles, Clos de Breuilly and Domaine Grosbot-Barbara have all had successful harvests. In addition, 2023 is the first vintage from the remarkable, steep, south-facing slopes of Mont Georges within the Saint-Pourçain appellation. The project to reclaim these vineyards, which were abandoned 60 years ago, has taken over 20 years to come to fruition, with the first parcel of Gamay and Pinot Noir planted in 2020.
It is noticeable that there is much less mildew damage here.
Anjou-Saumur and Touraine
The picture is different and more variable further west in Anjou-Saumur and Touraine.
‘2023 is like a vintage of 20-30…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/loire-harvest-report-2023-a-complicated-vintage-513284/