2012 Domaine Des Baumard, Quarts de Chaume, Loire
“If you love chenin, as I do, do yourself a favor and pour a glass of this wine. You’ll be welcomed into a gracious aristocratic pleasure of the Loire and, maybe, as the silken grace of this vinous bliss threatens to leave you but just keeps lasting for minutes, you’ll think to yourself, this golden beauty is one reason why it’s great to be alive. Or maybe you’ll think of the best peach you can remember tasting, concentrated in its sweetness yet so deft and elegant it simply won’t leave your memory.“- Wine & Spirits, 95 Points
“Unctuous, with a forward core of creamed yellow apple, pear and mango notes, underscored by warm pie-crust and ginger accents. Maintains a plump, open feel through the flattering finish.” – Wine Spectator, 91 Points
Variety: Chenin Blanc
Region: Quarts Des Chaume, Coteaux du Layon
Domaine des Baumard’s Quarts de Chaume is renowned the world over as the greatest example of this small, 110 acre vineyard (of which Baumard owns 15), since 2011 recognized as the first official “Grand Cru” of the Loire Valley. The sweet wines from this subregion of the Côteaux de Layon are from vineyards planted along the southeastern stretch of the Layon river. The perfectly exposed, steeply terraced vineyards allow the Chenin Blanc grape to ripen perfectly in most years, often enriched by the development of botryitis. Always long-lived, in great vintages Quarts de Chaume can be almost immortal, improving for decades.
The vines are planted on about 6 different soil types, including schist, quartz, rhyolite and spilite. Florent Baumard prefers to harvest as late as the vintage weather permits, hoping for plenty of botryitis. The grapes are harvested in successive passes or ‘tries’ through the vineyard, and any unsatisfactory fruit is eliminated. Florent employs a viticultural technique known as “vignes hautes et larges” that is unique in the region – he uses high training wires (over 6 feet) in order to maintain a large surface area of foliage and avoid the need for topping off the shoots. Rows in the vineyard are alternately ploughed and grassed, helping to maintain the soil’s microscopic fauna and avoid soil compression from tractors and other heavy machinery. The harvest is manual, and the fruit is transported in small plastic cages to minimize damage.