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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

2014 Quarts de Chaume – prospects?

As usual with Chenin Blanc there are big variations 
in ripeness in the Quarts de Chaume 
Photos taken in various parts of the AC yesterday 
(14th October 2014)

AC criteria: a maximum of 1.8 kilos per vine?

Yesterday we went to the Layon Valley for the day. This included a look at the Quarts de Chaume to see how the 2014 Chenin is progressing here. Just as we I arrived I met David Grellier, who is in charge at Château Bellerive, who told me that the Ban des Vendanges for Q de C would be today (Wednesday). 

Later on I saw Claude Papin, president of the Syndicat des Quarts de Chaume, who explained that because of the unsettled forecast for today with some rain promised this afternoon and this evening a few producers including Domaine des Baumard had been given permission to pick yesterday. This permission was given by the INAO following an inspection of their vines. Of course AC's picking criteria still apply if the producer wants the harvest to qualify as Quarts de Chaume – Grand Cru or otherwise.

The good news is that after some further rain on Thursday evening the forecast from Friday through to the end of Monday is very good with lots of sunshine and temperatures up to 24˚-25˚C. Tuesday is less good with the possibility of some showers. This promised coming hot weekend should ripen the grapes rapidly. Potentially good news after two very difficult years – 2012 and 2013. 

My impression from walking around part but admittedly not all of the vineyards of the Quarts de Chaume is that few of the grapes currently meet the AC's criteria of 18% potential. Any picking yesterday and today I think will have to have been highly selective for the grapes to properly qualify as Quarts de Chaume. There is the potential to make some very good Q de C in 2014 – weather permitting – but on the whole a little more time is needed.

Although Claude Papin is pleased with the way Q de C producers are cutting down their yields in line with the 2011 décret (20 hl/ha and no more than 1.8 kilos per vine) there are still parcels where the yields look high. I counted some vines with 10-12 bunches of grapes – difficult to believe that the scales wouldn't top 1.8 kilos. The overall yield criteria may be easier to meet as the fungal disease esca is clearly a problem here as it is elsewhere. 

I have to wonder whether all of the Q de C producers have understood that consumers have the right to expect a top-quality product as Quarts de Chaume is now a grand cru or as Jean Baumard prefers – Un Grand Vin du Monde.

Un Grand Vin du Monde

Domaine des Baumard's 1er Tri yesterday in Quarts de Chaume:                  

Picking boxes laid out down the row ready to pick 

 Picking boxes laid out ready to start afternoon session
on a lovely October day

Filled picking boxes @southern end of the parcel awaiting collection 

Awaiting the return of the pickers after the lunchtime pause

Domaine des Baumard: some of the most advanced and 
mature grapes that I saw yesterday in the Q de C 
but was the Tri here sufficiently rigorous to meet the 
ACs minimum requirement of 18% potential?
I doubt it unless these grapes were sorted – given the proportion of green 
– once they reached the Baumard chai in Rochefort. 
Did the INAO gave the dérogation on the basis of a more severe tri?

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