The annual Salon des Vins de Loire at the Parc d'Expositions in Angers at the beginning of February is a great opportunity to meet multiple wine makers under one roof, catch up on their news and sample their latest offerings.
After two vintages when volumes were down in 2012 and 2013 the atmosphere was upbeat as growers along the length of the Loire happily reported that both quantity and quality surpassed expectations last year. After a very variable summer with quite high rainfall, a dry, sunny September gave optimum ripening conditions.
The most marked expression of a bumper harvest came in the form of youthful reds (Pinots and Cabernet francs) that were showing bags of juicy, exuberant fruit and super ripe tannins. Our old friend Fred Filliatreau was particularly enthusiastic and a great tasting across his range - Domaine, Fouquet, Grand Vignolle and Vieilles Vignes - was enhanced by a delicious coarse pate (made by Fred's wife Laurence).
We rounded off a terrific day's tasting with some vat samples of racy young Sauvignons from Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Menetou-Salon. These should be delicious when they are released in the Spring as they combine fruit and freshness in equal measure. Patricia Luneau of Domaine Jean Teiller told us it was unquestionably her best vintage after 10 years at the helm of her family's cellars.
Make no mistake, 2014 has been a great success in the Loire valley and we look forward to further meetings in the Touraine as we head East.