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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

Sunday, 20 October 2013

2013 Loire vintage: a dérogation in Quarts de Chaume? + a peek@Savennières

Friday was a gloriously sunny autumn day with temperatures around 20˚C and a good drying east wind. If the Loire had been blessed with more days like this we would be hailing 2013 as a good vintage here.

After spending the night in Angers at L'Hotel du Mail, my hotel of preference there, we headed to Savennières.

First stop was to Damien Laureau in Savennieres. "We started picking on Monday 7th with a small tri with our main picking starting on Thursday 10th. It's been a complicated year. At the moment I'm waiting for the grapes to become more concentrated. Our potential degrees have been between 11.5 to 12. It is a year with high acidity."

 Catherine Ogereau picking: 18.10.13

Ogereau Savennières from 4th tri 

Emmanuel Ogereau, Catherine and Vincent's son

Close up of Emmanuel picking

Up at Le Moulin de Beaupréau (Savennières) we found Catherine and Emmanuel Ogereau with a small team of pickers busy on the fourth tri of their parcel here. They told us that the first tri here had been on Monday 13th. They had picked Cabernet Franc yesterday and would pick again tomorrow (Saturday). Apart from a small parcel, all of their Cabernet Sauvignon was rotten. "It was no good waiting any longer – just a question of picking what was still good."  

We bumped into Patrick Baudouin in the small centre of Savennières, who told us: "Yes it's another difficult year but 2013 is better than 2012. Talking to my parents, it reminds them of some vintages 30 to 40 years ago, when the degrees were low. At 11˚-12˚the fruit is ripe. We finished the reds yesterday – they are at 11˚-12˚ potential."

Quarts de Chaume
The Ban des Vendanges for Quarts de Chaume has yet to be declared, although it has for the Coteaux du Layon. This is because of the stricter ripeness requirements for Quarts de Chaume. The grapes have yet to reach the required level of potential alcohol 18%.

Domaine des Baumard has requested a dérogation to allow them to start picking early as enough of their grapes have reached 18.2%. In order to get a dérogation the vines have to be inspected by someone from the INAO to check that the grapes do indeed meet the appellation's rules and so can be picked early.  

 Edge of Baumard's vines on flatter ground above terraces 
(above and below)

 Examples of bunches from these Baumard vines
Some look the part but is the necessary concentration there yet?

From Savennières we crossed over the Loire to have a look at the Quarts de Chaume, to see how the grapes had changed since we were there on 3rd October. I had thought they might be adversely affected by the rain earlier this week. However, I was very pleasantly surprised as they still look promising with botrytis developing rapidly, although, from the individual grapes I tasted, mostly without any great concentration. But they do have more concentration than any I have tasted during our visits throughout the Loire this autumn. They have also come on very considerably in the last 15 days. See report on visit on 3rd October.

Driving down to the hamlet of Chaume we passed Guy Rochais (Château de Plaisance) who was testing a parcel of Chenin (at the entrance of the driveway to Plaisance) that would be going into making Anjou Blanc Sec – the degrees were between 14.5˚ and 15˚. He added that there is a move to create a Chaume'Anjou appellation for dry whites from here. The aim would be to give producers a hopefully more prestigious appellation than plain Anjou Blanc sec, which could be particularly useful in difficult years like 2012 and this year.   

Low concentrations of sugar has been a feature of 2013 throughout the Loire. It has been rare to find sugar levels about 12% potential alcohol and even rarer for them to be over 13%. It will be very interesting to see what the INAO representative finds in the grapes of Domaine des Baumards. 

I looked at some of the Baumard vines on the parcel on the flatter ground above the terraces. Of the vines I saw in Q de C on Friday these certainly are amongst the most advanced in the appellation (see photos above). I deliberately didn't taste any of the Baumard grapes. Instead tasted a few at the same stage from a nearby plot. They were becoming concentrated but I doubt if any were at the required 18˚ still with some dilution from the recent rain (Tuesday and Wednesday), although I didn't have a mustimeter so have no actual readings. However a few days of weather similar to Friday would I think concentrate sugars very quickly.

Unsuprisingly grapes in the opulently green leafed vignes larges at the top of the terraces overlooking the Layon are considerably less advanced. So, too, are grapes on the terraced vines either side of the rough track that leads down to the Layon. As you walk down from the entrance to Château de Bellerive to the small road alongside the Layon (laid on the old railway track that ran beside the Layon towards Chalonnes and then across to Savennières), it is noticeable that this part is more sheltered, so grapes here benefit less from the drying action of the wind. I suspect also that here there are shorter hours of sunshine than for the vines higher up. 

Grapes from just above the hamlet of Chaume 

 Vines by the entrance to Château Bellerive
+ grapes below

Lower part of QdeC terraces by road  along Layon

 Erosion in terrace on left hand side of track as you descend from hamlet of Chaume


 Lower part of Baumard's terraces on right hand side of track

 Baumard grapes on these terraces – 
less advanced than those on flatter ground
(above and below)

If the weather gods behave themselves there could well be the potential for some good Quarts de Chaume this year. There is plenty of rot – all that is needed is some favourable weather to concentrate the sugars. By the 19th October 2012 the weather station at Beaucouzé (just west of Angers) had recorded 187 mm of rain – for 2013 it's 43mm. The average for the whole of October (1981-2010) is 71.8mm.

Update: 22nd October 2013
The INAO inspected the Q de C vines of Domaine des Baumard on Friday and have granted a dérogation. I understand that the premier tri has now been done.     


Anonymous said...

Hey Jim,

Who gives you permission to go through Baumard's Vineyards?

I love the updates, but is it not private property? All of your other visits you seem to be accompanied by and owner or representative as is per usual/polite.

Do you do this with Baumard?

Jim Budd said...

Anon. Good to hear from you. I have travelled through out the Loire over the past month, taking photos without making any appointments. To date I have had no complaints.

John Davies said...

Jim, thanks for the update on Quarts de Chaume this year.

I love the pictures and things are looking to be quite a bit better than last, even in Baumard's vines!

I had some questions about the Derogation, does this happen often? If so is this information made public? It would be interesting to see over the past few years! If I may be so bold to ask, how did you come across this news?

Thanks for the information!

John Davies,

Jim Budd said...

John. Thanks for your comments. It is quite common for a producer to ask for a derogation if their vines are ready to be picked before the ban is declared. It can also happen if their grapes are higher in potential alcohol than is allowed under the appellation rules.

Several people told me that the Baumards had applied for a derogation in the Quarts de Chaume.

Doubtless details of the derogations are recorded. Over the years a number of producers have told me that they have successfully applied for derogations.