by Matthieu Baudry.
In 2018, Winter and Spring were rather mild, with much needed rain re-stocking our dry, deficient subsoils from last year. We were also spared the frost that impacted us greatly in the last two vintages.
It was quite a reversal in late May to early July: tropical weather. Flowering was once again very precocious like in 2017, with a nice charge of future clusters. We worked vigorously and non-stop to combat mildew; in the end the illness still took out a good amount of our buds before they'd fully formed.
The rest of the summer was very warm and terribly dry. We only got 40mm of rain between July 20th and mid-September. The vines continued feeding the grapes but some nonetheless suffered from the drought, most notably in the alluvial soils.
It was another year of very early harvesting: we started with Chenin on September 12th and the first Cabernets around the 18th. The richness of the sugars is exceptional, with potentials between 13 and 14.5 paired with good tartaric acids. 2018 is an incredibly complete and expressive vintage, I'd wager it even better than the legendary years of 2005 and 2010.
The amount many of us produced will also be a breath of oxygen for the many vignerons who've suffered so greatly in 2016 and 2017. In any case, something has become evident and imposed: in the last 30 years (1988-2018), temperatures have risen by over one degree in the period of March and September. The result is that the grapes have gained 3% of alcohol and acidites have gone down to an average of 4g/L.
For us, global warming is evident: we are harvesting earlier and earlier (one to two weeks) and are regularly vinifying Cabernet Franc that clocks in above 13%. While I feel it's a positive evolution for the beauty and expression of Cabernet Franc in the Loire, it's much more preoccupying and worrisome for our planet...