Wine: Tradition is being challenged in the Loire - to the benefit of all
Using corks today is as stupid as using bad barrels or poor vats,” says Loire winemaker Florent Baumard. I am sitting in a restaurant on an island in the middle of the river Loire listening to one of my wine heros.
“With corks you have no guarantee of quality. I wish I had moved to screwcaps 25 years ago,” he says.
Six years ago, Baumard shocked the wine world by announcing he would bottle all his premium Loire wines under screwcap. For a 17th century wine estate, renowned for top quality wines in one of France’s most traditional enclaves in southern Anjou, to abandon cork completely in favour of modern Stelvin screwcaps was groundbreaking.
Baumard is a true pioneer. He is not afraid to go it alone or to take on the authorities. With his father Jean, who expanded the family domaine to its current 40 hectares, Baumard has successfully fought legal challenges to protect the quality of the Quarts de Chaume sweet wine appellation.
Today, Baumard makes fizz, dry white, red and sensational sweet wines from his Rochefort domaine, next to the famous abbey, which has been in the same family since 1634. All the wines I tasted were superb. His wines are not well-known in the UK, compared to his more famous neighbour, the Jolys at Coulee de Serrant – but Baumard’s beautiful dry white Savennieres Clos du Papillon was a favourite of the Queen Mother.
His Cremant de Loire fizz, made by the same method as champagne, was voted our best fizz tasted by my Loire tour tasting group. In this rich intense sparkling cuvée, he uses 60 per cent cabernet franc – with the remainder chenin blanc and chardonnay – giving it creamy depth.
The highlights from Domaine Baumard were the sweet chenin blancs, his powerful 2007, fresh lively 2006 and rich intense 2005.
Domaine des Baumard, rue de l’Abbaye, Rochefort-sur-Loire is open to visitors Mon-Sat 10am-noon; 2pm-5:30pm; tel:+33(02) 41 787003, www.baumard.fr
CREMANT DE LOIRE NV Baumard
(£14.95, Henderson Wines, Edinburgh)
Vibrant, lively with creamy depth: the best cremant on the market.
SAVENNIERES, CLOS ST YVES 2007 Baumard
(£16.95, Henderson Wines; 1901 Deli, Glasgow)
Fresh, lively, vivid, dry, stately unoaked chenin blanc.
SAVENNIERES, CLOS DU PAPILLON 2006 Baumard
(£23.95, Henderson Wines)
Beautifully fresh, minerally, rich intense fruit, unoaked with lingering finish. Good with river fish.
COTEAUX DU LAYON 2007 Baumard
(£9.95 hf bt, Henderson Wines; Delivino, Crieff; John Scott & Miller, Orkney; Selfridges, London)
Like a peacock’s tail in the mouth: pungent aromas, sweet soft fruits, apricot and honeyed flavours.
QUARTS DE CHAUME 2005 Baumard
(£29.95 hf bt, Henderson Wines; Selfridges, London)
Quince, caramel, liquorice hints, a gorgeously succulent sweet wine with fresh natural acidity and rich vivid length of flavour.
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