Awards and citations:

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

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Florent Baumard: 'What Can I Say?'

Florent Baumard at the 2012 Salon des Vins de Loire

I'm pleased to see that Florent and Isabelle Baumard (Domaine des Baumard) have responded on to my recent posts about their 2012 Quarts de Chaume:

‘What Can I say?
The wine journalist Jim Budd has waged a campaign against Domaine des Baumard for 3 years now. The thrust of his ire is the concept of the innovative cold pressing technique and what he perceives to be an injust advantage that Domain Baumard has over other growers in the region.’ 

I was hoping to be able to link directly to their response but as it is a pdf document Google Blogger has unfortunately declined to oblige. However, links to the French and English versions can be found through the Domaine Baumard account on twitter here

I also welcome their invitation to see the 2013 Quarts de Chaume harvest at Domaine des Baumard. I continue to be happy to meet Florent. Indeed I tried to make arrangements to meet him either in March/April or June on the first morning of this year's Salon des Vins de Loire.   

It would be good if Florent Baumard took this opportunity to give a little more detail about their 2012 harvest in the Quarts de Chaume: 

a) At the time of picking what was the average potential alcohol of the grapes from the 1er tri picked 15th or 16th October? 

b) At the time of picking what was the average potential alcohol of the grapes from the 2eme tri picked around 25th October?

c) What percentage of your total Quarts de Chaume harvest did the 1er tri represent?

d) What was the total volume of grapes picked during the two tris and from what area of vines?

e) What is the exact volume of 2012 Quarts de Chaume that you have declared and from what area of vines?

f) You say: ‘Judicious and laborious manual selection, in conjunction with cold pressing, has produced juices in 2012 that meet the criteria of the AOC.'
Does 'in conjunction with cold pressing' mean that without cold pressing the grapes would not have met the minimum criteria of the AOC? 

I gather that Chris Kissack (The Wine Doctor) has also asked Florent questions on 2012 yields, picking dates and potential alcohol etc. 

Some inaccuracies and misconceptions in the Baumard response:

Right of reply 
‘What a strange world we live in where a journalist can defame a business based upon spurious technical points of which he has absolutely no practical understanding. Surely it is normal practise, if not common decency, for an honest journalist to offer the right to reply before publishing such damaging allegations?'

Florent Baumard was offered the right to reply before I posted Baumard's frozen 'miracle'. I sent Florent an email at 21.16 on 7th February 2013 detailing what I was proposing to post. He replied as follows at 8.16 on 8th February 2013: 

'Monsieur BUDD,

Vous êtes manifestement inconscient de l'inconvenance de votre démarche et du ton que vous employez.

Vous semblez disposer de beaucoup de temps, pour ma part, j'interromps là tout échange, j'ai du travail.

Florent Baumard'

I replied at 9.39 thanking him for his response.

'no practical understanding'
Although I would not claim the experience that Florent Baumard and other producers of sweet wine in the Loire have, I am, after more than 20 years reporting on the Loire, able to recognise the difference between green grapes and those at 'surmaturité'.  

It would be helpful to know if Florent Baumard considers whether Ronald S. Jackson in Wine Science: Principles and Applications (published in 2008) provides an accurate explanation of cryoextraction? 

'As with reverse osmosis, cryoextraction can be used with immature grapes, or berries swollen with water after rains. It also may be used to augment the sugar and flavor content of grapes in the production of sweet table wines. Cryoextractionis the technical equivalent of icewine production, except that overmature grapes are not used. Cryoextraction involves freezing the grapes, and the subsequent crushing and pressing of the partially frozen grapes. As the water in grapes cools and forms ice, dissolved sub-stances become increasingly concentrated in the remaining liquid. Because berries of greater maturity (greater sugar content) freeze more slowly than immature grapes, preferential extraction of juice from the more mature grapes can be achieved. Although temperatures down to 15 ºC increase solute concentration, temperatures between 5 ºC and 10 ºC are generally sufficient to remove unwanted water. Cryoextraction appears not to produce undesirable sensory consequences.'

Or this from Nicolas Quillé of Pacific Rim: 'If you follow me, when you thaw the grapes while pressing, you end up extracting all the sugar first, leaving the water frozen in the press thus concentrating your juice.'

'Vin De Glacière – Wine from the Ice Box December 6th 2012
'We recently received a rave review for our 2011 Vin De Glacière (VDG for short) from the Wine Spectator (90 points) and this reminded me that I have not done a post on the VDG since 2008! It is time to correct this dry spell as we prepare for our 26th vintage of VDG!

If you are just now joining our program, the VDG is a cryo-extracted wine. Cryo-extraction is a technique mimicking naturally frozen ice wine. The handpicked grapes for cryo-extracted wine are stored in cold storage while ice wines (which have been made for over 200 years) use Mother Nature to concentrate grape sugar. The concentration process is fairly simple; when a grape gets frozen, the water freezes first and the sugar last – this is reversed when the grapes are thawed. If you follow me, when you thaw the grapes while pressing, you end up extracting all the sugar first, leaving the water frozen in the press thus concentrating your juice.

There are several advantages to the cryo-extraction technique versus the true ice-wine method. Firstly, making ice wine in Germany or Canada (the only two countries that have laws insuring that you are getting a “true” ice wine) is a bit like playing Russian roulette; some years you get a good frost, some you don’t and you lose the crop. Secondly, with cryo-extraction, the timing of the frost is predictable; no need to get up at midnight on Christmas day (though making a “Christwein” is somewhat romantic at first glance) and it is less likely to have half the crop eaten by birds. Predictability allows a winery to get a better yield every year, which should be reflected in the price (our VDG sells for $14 vs $100 for a true ice wine). Thirdly, the chemistry is different with cryo-extracted wine; the wines will be a bit tarter (picked earlier) and less “funky” (no botrytis and other fungal influence). We actually make both styles and but for an everyday pleasure, the VDG is perfect for the price.'

After 25 years does Nicolas Quillé, whose CV includes time of general manager at Randall Grahm's Bonny Doon, still not understand the process that allows him to make his Vin De Glacière? 

From the French version of Florent's response:
'Il ne peut être tiré des photos de Monsieur Budd aucune conclusion probante. Ni de leur localisation.' 

The photos I took on the afternoon of 9th October 2012, along with the published camera data showing the time they were taken, indicate very clearly where they were taken. 'Ni de leur localisation' is Florent Baumard accusing me of manipulating photos to 'defame' Domaine des Baumard?

Incidentally the first photos of grapes from the Domaine des Baumard were taken and posted in 2010 not in 2009. 

'certainly instigated by other parties'
'This has led to a campaign of intimidation and defamation, via the internet and social media, disseminated by Mr Budd, but certainly instigated by other parties.'

This is fanciful nonsense. I decide where I go in the Loire, who I talk to, what photos to take and what I post on Jim's Loire. I am, of course, aware that relations are not entirely cordial between the Baumards and some of the other Quarts de Chaume producers. 

The reason I have posted on Domaine des Baumard and, in particular, their 2012 Quarts de Chaume is that they are the sole domaine to have declared a substantial quantity (77-79hls) of Quarts de Chaume in 2012 and the sole declaring domaine to have picked their entire crop in October. Château la Varière, the other estate to have declared in 2012, picked on 8th November.  

Also the Baumards are mounting a legal challenge to the November 2011 Quarts de Chaume décret that created the Loire's first Grand Cru. Surely a legitimate story to follow? 

The Quarts de Chaume is a very special site. I have made no secret that I fully support the moves embodied in the November 2011 décret to make the regulations more rigorous than before. With small yields, fine vineyard management and by taking risks it possible to make great sweet wine here in most years. If that means in very testing vintages like 2012, no Quarts de Chaume is made then so be it. What is in the bottle should reflect what was on the vine, so I'm certainly against the use of cryoextraction or cold-pressing (whatever it is called) in the Quarts de Chaume. It is simply not relevant whether or not it is used by some of the great estates in Sauternes/Barsac. The Loire does not have to ape any other region.

Previous posts on Baumard's 2012 Quarts de Chaume: 




Anonymous said...

Keep it up J. Hopefully the frenchies will see
that you are helping them.
No wonder where the acid comes from in Dom. Bs wines.
Best J

Wojciech Bońkowski said...

Full support to your endeavours Jim. Journalists will not be silenced by intimidating producers.

Please correct the formatting. It is spoiling what is a really great read.

Jim Budd said...

Wojciech. Many thanks for your comment. The formatting in Blogger is always difficult when you import text in from elsewhere. CRM and I have spent some time trying to get it right and following your comment have done some further tweaks.

If it is still not right, please let me know. Jim

Brian said...

I don't get what is your issue here. If they are at odds with AOC law then that's an issue for them and the AOC. As far as I can see, you don't like cryo, well so be it, equally I don't like legal addition of water to wine in California. As far as sharing what suger they picker their fruit, that's their business, hardly yours.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Budd:

Could we please see the email you sent Florent? It only shows his response. Not your initial attempt to contact him as you say you did in the honor of fair journalism.

The clarification would be much appreciated.


Jim Budd said...

Thanks for your comment anon. I'm not sure what you are inferring here.

The email I sent to Florent Baumard set out what I subsequently posted the following day as the Frozen Miracle.

I posted Florent's response as he claims I did not give him the right of reply.

Jim Budd said...


Thanks for your comment.

A Quarts de Chaume has a considerable premium over a straight Coteaux du Layon and rightly so if it is made according to the rules.

The 2011 Quarts de Chaume décret bans the lowering of the temperature of the grapes below -5˚C. However, under the transitional arrangements the practice of lowering the temperature of the grapes to below 5˚C is permitted until after the harvest of 2019.

However, the technique of lowering the temperature is only permitted if the grapes reach the required level of ripeness on the vine.

Obviously not every grape or bunch has to be 18.5% potential but clearly if there are grapes below 18.5% there will have to be others above 18.5% potential to reach the required limit.