In 2017, the vines decided to grow very precociously. Following the catastrophic 2016 (frost and mildew), the buds were rather promising in terms of quantity. And then, a late April frost decimated 80% of my future crop.
I am lucky to be part of a collective of likeminded vignerons called Pinards et Jus d'Ancenis. We are all close to each other geographically and philosophically. For the last five years, we boat down the Loire with our wines from Oudon to Nantes on in an effort to make a larger public discover our terroirs.
This association also permits us to exchange greatly on our practices, to share work equipment and to not feel alone when faced with difficult situations. Through this solidarity, we were able to collectively able to get grapes from a few parcels that were supposed to be torn out. We started working them in May and maintained them up to harvest.
The harvest snuck up on us, and arrived very early. I started on August 31st, 15 days in advance. My neighbor Jacques Février and I shared a harvest team, and we began with the Melon de Bourgogne. It was very complicated to organize everything, as we had to juggle between the ripe grapes on the parcels that hadn't frozen, the less ripe grapes on frosted vines (sometimes within the same parcel!) the solidarity parcels we were harvesting collectively with other vignerons and grapes that were offered to us at the last minute we ended up buying.
It was an extremely difficult three weeks both mentally and physically, which in the end resulted in a little more grapes than last year. But the quality was very heterogeneous, and thus harder to vinify. I'm rather satisfied with the final result, even if some small vats have proven challenging. I continue to learn in this third, atypical vintage.
By Rémi Branger.We began picking on August 29th and finished on September 13th for the whites. Usually we are used to starting in mid-September, and the last time I can remember such a precocious harvest was 2005. Here is a breakdown: Briords was harvested August 30th, Château Thébaud on September 9th, Gras Mouton on September 6th and Clisson September 8th. Clisson we picked a little earlier than originally planned due to a rainy weekend forecast.
A few days before harvest, we got 25mm of rain, which really helped advance maturities. It also ballooned the grapes a bit without diluting them. This is confirmed by the fact the juices are all between 11% and 12.5%, with 5 or 6 grams of acidity. Throughout harvest, the rain persisted and started degrading the grapes by the very end.
Still, we are very satisfied with what we've brought into the cellar: a higher quantity than even a good year, and certainly more juice than we were estimating for the vintage.
For the reds, the Côt was harvested on September 13th, the Merlot on the 21st and the Cabernet on the 26th. All of these were affected by frost and the maturities are a little out of wack compared to a normal year.