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1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Monday, 6 February 2012

Baumards seek third annulation

Florent Baumard: "Perhaps I should have ordered a bullet-proof vest!"

Florent Baumard (Baumard) confirmed at the Salon des Vins de Loire this morning that they have lodged a legal challenge with the Conseil d'Etat to the two new appellations: Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru and Chaume Premier Cru du Coteaux du Layon.

Florent Baumard: "I don't like doing this but we had no choice. There are many things wrong with the text – it is full of contradictions and errors. I'm not against the notion of Quarts de Chaume grand cru but the producers wanted to have a grand cru at any price. Many want to sell their domaines and think that if it's is a grand cru it will be easier to sell.

"We have been excluded through the passing of arbitary rules. Two hectares of our vines – les vignes larges – have been declassified from Quarts de Chaume and these are the vines that produce my best fruit!"

Pierre Aguilas: incandescent at the Baumard's legal challenge

Afterwards I spoke to Pierre Aguilas, who is both a producer in the Quarts de Chaume and president de la Confédération nationale des vins AOC, president de la Confédération des vignerons du Val de Loire, president du comité régional de l'INAO and president d'honneur de la Fédération viticole de l'Anjou. He was barely able to contain his fury at what the Baumards have done by seeking to annul once again a new appellation involving Chaume and as well as trying to overturn the new Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru.

"When I heard about this new legal challenge on Friday night – I was astonished. The new rules are very strict, such as reducing the yields and verifying the amount of grapes by what is on the vine rather than calculating by the hectare. I and others in Anjou have worked for the past twenty years to improve the quality of the wines of Anjou. Appellation rules have been successively tightened up.

"Quarts de Chaume is a very great appellation and many have worked very hard to bring it up to a standard that merits a grand cru. Now all this work over the past 20 years here and in the rest of Anjou is threatened to be thrown away by the egotistical actions of one individual!

"True there a few like Laffourcade who want to sell but there are now many new producers in the Quarts de Chaume, who are certainly not intending to sell! I borrowed money from friends and associates just so that I have have some vines in the Quarts de Chaume. I strive to make the best wine I can from what nature gives me with very low yields – 14-15 hl/ha – so as to give maximum value to the appellation. Each year I work with just nature – no machines (Jim: Baumard is a proponent of cryo-selection/cryoextraction, which is banned under the new Q de C regulations) and no additions of sugar.

"Jean Baumard was past president of the Fédération Viticole de l'Anjou. It is ridiculous and shameful that he is making this legal challenge for entirely selfish reasons – thinking only of himself and not for the good of the viticulture of Anjou. In the past I defended Jean Baumard – it is now clear I was wrong to do so. This whole situation is surreal!" 

Pierre Aguilas@2012 Salon des Vins de Loire

Stéphane Branchereau of Domaine des Forges said: "We tried to be conciliatory – for example in the phasing out of cryoextraction extending this to 2020 – but it hasn’t worked."

Although the Quarts de Chaume is only a small appellation of some 50 hectares and Coteaux du Layon Chaume slightly bigger with 70 hectares, there will be more riding on the decision by the Conseil d'Etat. Quarts de Chaume is intended to be the first Loire grand cru but not necessarily the last. Other special sites or terroirs could become grand crus if they adopted similarly strict regulations that the the Quarts de Chaume have accepted. If the Conseil d'Etat upholds Baumard's legal challenge, the possibility of Loire grands crus will be thrown into question. It may also mean that the use of cryo-selection/cryo-extraction will again be permitted for Anjou sweet wines undermining much the progress that has been achieved in the years since the mid to late 1980s.

A suivre

See also here on


Luc Charlier said...

I will refrain from commenting on an issue I’m not well informed about.
Still, one remark: Domaine des Baumard was one of the first in the area to courageously use screwcaps on their lovely wines. Modern technique serving quality. And Domaine des Baumard is – according to your interview, Jim - supporting cryo-extraction. Modern technique NOT enhancing quality but only helping to reduce the cost and making “fake” noble rot wines! Call it a Janus ?

jacqueline friedrich said...

Jim, can you be more precise about the Baumard's use of cryoextraction? Which vintages? Percentages?
Have you been tracking the yields, chaptalization, use of enzymes and other additives of any other producers? If so, which?
Can you ask Pierre Aguilas to specify when and how he defended Baumard? In my experience in the region -- and with the parties in question -- which dates from September 1989, I have never heard Pierre Aguilas defend the Baumards. More like the contrary.
Your reportage leaves something to be desired -- at the very least, in terms of objectivity.

Jim Budd said...

Jackie. Thanks for your comments. I reported the comments of Florent Baumard and Pierre Aguilas I believe accurately. If I haven't accurately reflected what was said to me then I will amend as necessary.

There is much more to cover on this subject, in part along the lines that you suggest as well as other aspects of this affair, and I intend to do so over the coming days and weeks.

The yields are certainly one element to explore and it would be good if these can be released.

In terms of cryo-selection/ cryo-extraction I have exchanged a number of emails with Jean Baumard on this subject, so the comment that they are proponents of cryo-selection is fair.

Jim Budd said...

Luc. You are right that the Baumards decision to use screwcaps was a brave one and one I supported. See news story from 2006:

Jim Budd said...


Perhaps we should start with your excelent suggestion of tracking yields. I would suggest that in addition to asking Florent Baumard, I should ask Pierre Aguilas, Claude Papin, Jo Pithon, Yves Guegniard, Stéphane Branchereau, Patrick Baudouin for their declaration de recolte for the last 10 years plus any other producers you think I should ask.

Jim Budd said...

Comment from Jacqueline Friedrich edited for reasons of possible libel:

From Jackie:
Funny you should instantly glom on to the issue of yields. It’s not the first time you have implicitly accused the Baumards of overcropping. Let me refer you back to your various posts – and my answers to those posts – last October when you presented a photo of what were purported to be Baumard’s vines in Quarts de Chaume in order to make that point.
In my response I suggested that you sit down with the Baumards and discuss the issue with them – outside of the hurly-burly of the Salon des Vins de Loire. To my knowledge you have not yet done that.
This, to me, hardly demonstrates good faith, particularly when, once again, you take up the cudgels against a single wine producer.
I’d like to say three things about the overcropping issue and then address your attack in general.
First, with regard to the photo you published to “prove”overcropping by the Baumards in Quarts de Chaume, let me ask you to respond directly to the following questions:

Q #1: Did you personally take the picture in question?
Q#2: The grapes we see in your picture, do you know from your own personal knowledge that they were Baumard’s grapes? If not, on what information do you base your statement?
Q#3: Again referring to the grapes we see in your picture, do you know for a fact that those grapes were harvested? Is your supposition based on your own personal knowledge? If not, on what do you base your supposition?
Q#4: Based on your experience as a wine journalist, do you know whether or not Domaine des Baumards produces other types of wine than Quarts de Chaume?
Q#5: Would it be fair to say that Domaine des Baumards makes more than four types of wine, including several sparkling wines?
Q#6: Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the grapes in your photo were harvested, do you know for a fact that they were used to make Domaine des Baumard’s Quarts de Chaume?
Q#7: Have you ever asked the Baumards?

I think you can imagine what I suspect your answers would be to the above questions. I think we can assume that the photo in question has no value whatsoever except, possibly, as an evocation of the Angevin paysage.

Now, to the question of Declaration of Harvest: do you honestly believe that vignerons always tell the truth – anymore, let’s say, the average citizen always tells the truth on his or her tax returns?
Might I suggest that more effort is required in order to establish the truth. If you want to make your case, go visit all the vineyards a month before the harvest, two weeks before the harvest and then regularly until all the grapes are in.
And, in addition to the vintners you list, I’ll add Laffourcade (if he hasn’t already sold L’Echarderie), Jacques Beaujeau, Pierre Chainier, Andre Davy, Chateau de la Mulonniere and Vignobles Alain Chateau.

And to the aspersions regarding cryoextraction: you say you have corresponded with Jean Baumard on this topic. Would you care to share that correspondence with us in its entirety.
Further, let me point out that cryoextraction – whether or not practiced by Baumard – is not, to my knowledge, against the law.
And Baumard may well be in favor of cryoextraction without actually using it. I, for example, support same-sex marriage though I am not gay and doubt I ever will be.
So, in which vintages did the Baumards avail themselves of the use of cryoextraction?
Please be precise and state the source of your knowledge.

A couple of random points:

(Jim: The first point has been removed on the grounds of potential libel, especially as it was not supported by any evidence.)
And, while we all like to believe the sole and unique purpose of rewriting the Quarts de Chaume decret is in the interests of making ever greater wine, we know that there are more than a few Quarts proprietors whose interests are more financial than they are artistic as Grand Crus status would increase the value of the land.

Jim Budd said...

Come on Jackie you can do better than this!

I have not accused anyone in the comments above of over-cropping merely agreeing with you that it would be useful to this debate and story to know the déclarations de recolte for a number of the producers. Indeed ideally all if that is possible. You suggest that I track 'use of enzymes and other additives of any other producers?'. Do you have any evidence on who in the QdeC if anyone uses these? As you are aware the producers are obliged to make an annual declaration, so this is one common piece of evidence that can be looked at across the producers. I will be seeking to obtain details of the yields across all QdeC producers if possible.

The answer to your other questions is that yes I took the photos and yes I do know that those vines belong to Domaine des Baumard.

‘I think we can assume that the photo in question has no value whatsoever except, possibly, as an evocation of the Angevin paysage.’

You may well wish to assume this but your assumption would be entirely false. I’m not in the habit of publishing photos linked to a particular producer unless I’m sure of their provenance. I take almost all of the photos published on Jim’s Loire. If you can find another patch of vines like this in the Quarts de Chaume zone d’appellation please let me know.

At the end of last year I told you that I hadn’t visited Florent Baumard as I intended as I had spent very little time in Anjou last year. I was there during the 2011 harvest as I have been every year since 2007 but that was not the moment to have a detailed conversation with the Baumards. I told you that I intend to visit Florent this year to discuss these questions in detail and you responded on 25th October 2011:

‘A man with a plan. That sounds good. Keep me posted.’

As in previous years I will be in the Loire for a good three weeks during the harvest.

I think that one of the most positive things to have happened in the past 10-15 years in the Quarts de Chaume is the number of new producers who have come in and who have raised the quality of the wines being produced here.

Finally I note the comment by Jean-Louis Buer, directeur de l'INAO:

La décision de l’INAO d'accorder la mention "grand cru" à l'AOC Quarts de Chaume permet à celle-ci de garder une position privilégiée mais aussi etr surtout, selon Jean-Louis Buer, directeur de l'INAO " d'assurer une stabilité dans le vignoble en dégageant la particularité de chaque AOC. "

Jim Budd said...

Jacqueline Friedrich:

'This, to me, hardly demonstrates good faith, particularly when, once again, you take up the cudgels against a single wine producer.'

It is the Baumards not I who have chosen to seek to have the new Quarts de Chaume grand cru annulled – a décret that was agreed unanimously by the INAO. One can hardly be surprised that this has provoked a furious response from some of their fellow producers.

jacqueline friedrich said...

Come on Jim, you can do better. Maybe.

First: for those who want to see my redacted comments, go to my website:

Second: in an excellent example of the pot calling the kettle "black," you suggest that my comments may have been libelous.

Third: I note that the only one of my questions you responded to concerned the person who took the photograph. What about the other questions, Jim?

Fourth: the initial decret for Chaume Premier Cru was very poorly drafted. That it would be overruled was a no-brainer.

Fifth: I have close relationships with people on both sides of this issue. At the Salon des Vins de Loire I offered my services as an arbiter, as one who would try to bring the two sides together, as I believe I am one of the few people each of the key parties trust. (I do not include Pierre Aguilas in this category.)
I would like to see this issue resolved. I would like to see Quarts de Chaume become a Grand Cru. I would like Chaume to become a Premier Cru. I would also like to see Bonnezeaux become a Grand Cru.
I see every reason in the world for interested wine lovers to try to bring the parties together. I see no reason whatsoever for wine lovers to stir up resentment and ill feelings.

Jim Budd said...

Thank you for your comment Jackie.

I would like to see Quarts de Chaume remain a Grand Cru and Chaume remain a Coteaux du Layon Premier Cru with the possibility of further crus with suitable rigorous criteria.

Anonymous said...

I am glad the Baumard are fighting.
The quality of their wines speaks for itself....
Jim, you should be more honest in your comments if you want to be taken seriously.
A true chenin lover (NYC)

Jim Budd said...


Thanks for your comment.

It would be helpful to know where and how you believe I have been dishonest.

I agree that the Baumards make good sweet wine I have never denied that. Whether it is true Quarts de Chaume is another matter.

From the INAO summary of the Baumards' legal challenge before the Conseil d'Etat the central plank of the their complaint centres on the use of cryoselection/cryoextraction and the requirement that the grapes should have a minimum potential alcohol of 18%

I have said before and will say again that for me there is no place for techniques like cryoextraction/ cryoselection in a grand vin like Quarts de Chaume.