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.
Domaine des Baumard produces some of the finest examples of Chenin Blanc, and Jean Baumard and now his son, Florent, are universally regarded as the finest winemakers in the appellation. Their wines are among the most unique and rewarding in the world.
Soils: The vines are planted on about 6 different soil types, including schist, quartz, rhyolite and spilite.
Grape Varieties: 100% Chenin Blanc
Vineyard Management: 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.
Fermentation: The wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures on their lees; no wood is used in the winemaking or aging process, which Florent believes allows him to achieve a purer expression of site.
Aging: The wine spends 9 months on the lees in tank before being bottled.
The various shades of gold Quarts de Chaume displays throughout the course of its life are fascinating, telling, and always changing. Aromas are intensely floral, with ripe citrus, pear and other orchard fruits mingling with minerality. On the palate these same notes come through in an opulent, irresistable density that nevertheless finishes lifted and fresh.
'Waves of creamed Jonagold apple, Cavaillon melon, mirabelle plum, mango and white peach flavors provide thrilling range, while flashes of honeysuckle and verbena add detail and focus throughout. Unctuous yet pure, sweet yet invigorating, with an inner brightness that matches the outward hedonism.'