A recent visit to Vouvray confirmed what we had observed throughout the Loire Valley region – the season was a month late.At Monmouseau they started picking on 9th September last year, while this year it was not until 9th October. The winemakers were waiting for grapes to arrive and with time on their hands gave us a fascinating tour of their facilities, deep in the cliffs of the Rochecorbon district. They also confirmed that sweet Vouvray wine would not be produced this year – it had not been warm enough.
At Montluoise sur Loire we tried the Cave Touristique for a tasting visit but were disappointed, not by the wines, but by the attention a seriously overworked staff could give us. It is a sales operation for several local producers and the sales man, while speaking English, was not the most expert I have encountered. Several points he made were quite wrong and I began to wonder if I should take anything he said seriously.
We were also able to watch Cabernet Franc grapes arriving at the co-op in Francueil. Hand picked grapes were loaded onto convayors after a test was made to confirm the sugar levels. After tasting the grapes we were allowed to tour the production facilities: the largest hydrolic press in the Loire and fermentation vessels dating back to the 1920’s (they have state-of-the-art stainless steel vessels as well, but the original old lined-concrete versions are wonderful). They are enthusiasts at Francueil and I had a long discussion with the co-op chairman about the history of the area as reflected in the names of the wines offered.
All winemakers are also confirming that while quantities are shockingly small this year, wine quality will be high. Unfortunately areas like this are unlikely to be able to charge any more for this scarce product, so incomes will be very low.