Vintage 2014 Region By Region : Part 2
In Part 1, I focused solely on Bordeaux. Thanks to the Primeurs tasting that take place in April, it’s easy to get an early opinion of the overall quality of a vintage. In this article, I’ll give you a quick overview of 2014 in the rest of the major French wine regions.
Even though Bordeaux is technically located in the southwest of France, it is not part of the family of southwest wines. However, with similar climate conditions, most of the region benefited from an incredible indian summer. After a very sad summer, most grapes reached good levels of maturity thanks to the bright and warm fall. The wines will all be superior to 2013. With plenty of density and quality tannins, 2014 appears to be a solid year for the Malbecs from Cahors.
One of the rare areas in France where 2014 is generally of lesser quality than 2013. Less quantity as well, as hail destroyed the crop in several places (5 000 acres of vines were ravaged in the department of Aude!). However, the Languedoc-Roussillon is a vast region and with a little research, it is possible to find some superb bottles.
With a production similar to 2011 in terms of volume and with quality grapes, 2014 seems to be a solid year for the lavender region. Rosé represents 88% of the total AOC wine production of the region this year (around 160 million bottles). The growing community of rosé lovers will have more than enough Provence (the best rosé in the world at this point) to drink this summer.
2014 is going to be an excellent vintage for Rhône white wines. Fresh, very aromatic, complex and well balanced, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne, are for the most part all a success. A cooler summer than previous years also favored the rosés from Tavel which are very enjoyable. As for red wines, it is a more heterogeneous year. Then again, due to a cooler summer, wines display a little less body and warmth than usual as well as a little more acidity. The northern part of the region (Côte Rôtie, Hermitage…) produced nice and balanced Syrah’s combining finesse and elegance. The southern Rhône wasn’t as successful. Vacqueyras and Gigondas stand out as they received less rainfall during the late season.
I spent two weeks there during harvest and you could feel the optimism and happiness of most professionals thanks to a warm and bright weather in September. Overall, the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays really benefited from those climate conditions and reached satisfying maturity levels. 2014 is going to be a fantastic year for white wines, all over the region. Aromatic, precise and pure, they will age gracefully in a classic Burgundy manner. Regarding reds, the situation varies more from appellation to appellation. Vine-growers known for meticulous vine work and serious grape sorting will be in pole position!
What a difference a year can make! After a poor 2013 vintage, the Loire valley produced some very nice bottles this year. The whites are beautiful especially the ones from the Centre Loire (Sancerre, Quincy, Pouilly Fumé….) made from Sauvignon Blanc. Tasting wise, they are really aromatic (citrus, white flowers…) lively and fresh thanks to good acidity levels and great balance. One of my favorite style of wine! 2014 is also probably the best year for red wines since 2010.
Just like most of the country, the quality this year is higher than in 2013. 2014 appears to be a very solid vintage in Alsace, especially for the Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris varieties. The Gewürztraminer didn’t reach the quality level of other grapes. Very expressive and delicious whites for the most part. Unfortunately, the region did not produce a lot of wine in 2014 compared to its usual standards.
• I will be in France next week with a lot of intriguing tastings planned. Details to come in future articles.