Although very different in scale, the Baumards have attempted to pass off inferior and cheaper grapes – unripe and probably ignobly rotten – as Quarts de Chaume. This is certainly the case in 2012 and may well be partially the case in 2011 and 2010 as the following photos indicate. I would be very surprised if any of Baumard's grapes in 2012 met the appellation's minimum requirements – 18.5% potential for each sweep through the vine. Just as with beef consumers have the right to expect the wine inside the bottle to match the label, particularly as they pay a considerable premium for Quarts de Chaume. They don't expect to pay the premium for grapes possibly suitable for a dry white wine processed into a sweet wine. It is customary for Domaine des Baumards to declare the maximum, or close to the maximum, permitted under the appellation rules.
Baumard: large bunches a long way off ripe even for a dry white wine
Baumard: if all the bunches were like this there would be no need for cryoextraction!
Domaine des Baumard has declared nearly 80hls from this very difficult vintage has already been covered here (English) and ici (Français). In the 2010 and 2011 vintages I can only speculate on the role played by cryoextraction. In 2012 we know that Florent and Jean Baumard picked well below the required minimum degree of ripeness. Therefore it cannot legally be sold as Quarts de Chaume. The minimum required degree of ripeness has to be achieved on the vine and not in the freezer.
It is astonishing and highly regrettable that Domaine des Baumard has attempted to pass off this industrially concentrated sweet wine as Quarts de Chaume, one of France's greatest sweet wine appellations.
ironically he and Florent appear to be determined to undermine its reputation
Very early days of course but I hope that 2013 will be a much easier than 2012 proved to be and that the quality of this year's Quarts de Chaume is similar to that of 2007, 2010 and 2011. Loire vintages ending in '3' have a mixed reputation. 1893, in particular, and 2003 being very good to great vintages, while 1963 being the opposite.
It would be very good news if 2013 proves to be the year that Florent Baumard abandons the high yield practices of the bad days of the 1970s and 1980s and changes his approach to join that of many of his fellow producers in the Coteaux du Layon, who have made such dramatic progress over the past 25 years.
Once again I plan to be in the Loire during the vintage. It would be good to organise a morning or an afternoon in late September or early October for any interested journalists in the area at the time to visit the Quarts de Chaume to see how the grapes are progessing and prospects for the vintage in the presence of as many producers, including I hope Florent Baumard, as possible.