Overall, it has been a rather challenging year for wine growers in the Loire Valley, and as always in these circumstances, the pedigree of wine growers and the quality of terroirs are what make the difference.
Muscadets are rather good and this could even be termed a good vintage. The wines are fresh and very well balanced and some blends can be laid down for several years.
In the Anjou and Saumur regions, the winter was mild and rain was scarce. By contrast, spring was characterised by heavy, sustained rainfall. These weather vagaries caused millerandage in the vines and yields were therefore reduced, then further diminished by storms and frost which afflicted the vineyards and damaged a proportion of the potential harvest. Fortunately, the summer was more settled, allowing the vines to reach a good level of ripeness. Overall, wines are of good quality, but 2012 cannot be termed a great vintage in Anjou and Saumur.
The Touraine vineyards suffered more or less similar weather vagaries. A mild, dry winter, rainy spring and fairly fine summer allowed the grapes to ripen well and in good health. The harvest began mid-September for the earliest grape varieties. The wines promise to be fruity, tasty and delicate - a cut above Saumur. There will be fine blends from Bourgueil and good dry whites in Vouvray and Montlouis.
In Muscadet, and at the far edge of the Loire, in Sancerre and Centre-Loire, it can be described as a very fine vintage particularly for Sauvignon whites (especially in Sancerre). The winter was as mild as in the other Loire vineyards. April rains arrested the precocious ripening trend previously observed. Mid-July ushered in a settled, hot summer. The vines were able to grow in optimal conditions, concentrating substance in the grapes. However, overly dry conditions were not good for vines, which struggled to reach ripeness in early autumn. Fortunately, welcome rainfall gave the vines the boost required to cross the finishing line! The grapes were harvested in optimum health in almost perfect balances! The wines promise to be subtle, dense, true to type and ideal for cellaring!