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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, 16 October 2017

2017 Loire – Quarts de Chaume: Grand Cru status comes with responsibilities

 Track to Les Martinières

After visiting Domaines de la Bergerie and Ogereau last Tuesday we had a very quick look at what fruit was left to pick in the Quarts de Chaume. We took part of the the track up to Les Martinières. 

With no claims that what I saw was representative of the Grand Cru appellation this year – we only looked at a small part and this is well into the harvest – but the fruit management looked worrying variable. On some vines there were clumps of  bunches with individual vines looking to carry a substantial weight of grapes. Under the 2011 regulations that set up Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru the maximum weight of grapes on each individual vine is set at 1.7 kilos – for the remaining Vignes Larges (more widely spaced vines) 2.5 kilos are allowed. 

I have been a strong supporter of Quarts de Chaume becoming a Grand Cru, which it did in 2011. However, the Grand Cru status surely imposes certain responsibilities and accepting a commitment to very high quality on all of the producers. There are 20 producers with just 29 hectares in the Quarts de Chaume. Given that two producers – Baumard and Suronde – have some 12 of these 29 hectares – that means that the average for the remaining 18 producers is less than a hectare. Allied this with the status of grand cru and price that these wines can command, there should be no excuse for less than impeccable viticulture in the Quarts de Chaume. Otherwise the consumer is being taken for a ride, which is exactly the reason I have been critical of Baumard's methods.

Grand cru viticulture?  
You cannot be serious!    

I should make it clear that none of the vines in the photos below belong to Domaine des Baumard. On this occasion we didn't have time to visit any of their parcels.

Mix of botrytis and golden grapes 
– typical of Chenin's variable ripening 
– on this well spaced out bunch

Similarly above and below

Some spread out bunches but two clumps 
– just 1.7 kilos of grapes on this vine? 

Surely the bunches on these vines should have been thinned 
Is this viticulture of grand cru standard? 
(above and two below) 

Grand Cru viticulture?



Bob Rossi said...

Thank you for this interesting piece and the photos. You make an excellent point about responsibilities.

Unknown said...

Can't they sort the grapes in and keep the good ones?

Jim's Loire said...

Unknown. Yse the principle of making good sweet wine is through a series of selective picking. Picking those grapes that have sufficient noble rot and leaving the rest to develop further to be picked later. The problem with the clumps of grapes shown in some of the photos is that it is more difficult for them all to ripen properly and that squashed together they don't dry easily if they have rain, so unwanted rot – grey rot – may develop. Also it may encourage acid rot.