2012 was a vintage that certainly kept growers in the Loire busy. The potential pitfalls were many; from early spring frost, to hail, to mid-season drought, to finally the threat of late season rot. Good vineyard management was essential.
After a poor, rather late flowering and irregular fruit set, the region experienced a cool early summer with an extended period of very dry weather bringing with it the dangers of hydric stress. In Montlouis, Vouvray and Anjou, September put paid to any weather deficit. Indeed, growers had to work enormously hard to keep rot at bay, with the added difficulty that many couldn’t get their tractors into the vineyards, such was the water underfoot. In Pouilly and Sancerre, the rains came later, providing a timely fillip to the ripening of the small, dense, thick-skinned grapes. In Bourgeuil, Jacky Blot and his team have produced some fantastically transparent wines, the evident complications of his vintage borne out yields of only 12hl/ha.
So, it really was anything but an armchair vintage. And yet, despite all the hurdles, the wines are superb. It really is testament to the dedication of the growers whose wines we are delighted to be offering. You will find a ripeness in the acidities that makes them less bracing than the 2010s, though perhaps a little crisper than the precocious 2011s. They combine refinement, purity and clear fruit flavours with pretty, elegant and quietly intense structures.
Also in the offer is a selection of late release 2011s. Lucien Crochet, who always bottles up his Sancerre late, often after the following vintage, has two very fine and rewarding Sancerres alongside perhaps his best red yet (from the 2010 vintage). There are Philippe Vatans pure, calm Saumers, Joguet’s stunning Chinons and the Pinard’s highly
sought after Pinot Noir cuvees, including our first release of their Vendange Entiere bottling.
The Loire continues to offer some of the best value wines on our list and we think you’ll find a lot to love, and to drink, from this year’s En Primeur offer.
Assistant Buyer, Justerini & Brooks