The weather outside my office has taken a turn for the worse in the last 30 minutes – I’m currently looking at a mix of torrential rain and hailstones, against a backdrop of lightning flashes and long, loud and rolling thunder. It’s pretty dreary, although not as dreary as the various French appellation and classification debacles that are also currently rumbling on, rather like the thunder overhead right now. There are at least three that I have been following, although no doubt there are more in regions other than Bordeaux and the Loire (the controversy of the expansion of the Champagne vineyard being perhaps the best example). These three are in Bordeaux, (a) the St Emilion classification and (b) the Cru Bourgeois classification, and in the Loire (c) the see-sawing appellation of Chaume / Coteaux du Layon-Chaume / Chaume Premier Cru du Layon / call-it-what-you-will-Chaume.
I like to keep the relevant Winedoctor pages updated in order that the site keeps its value as a good resource for information on these two regions above all others, but I do also find it hugely tiresome that this work is all down to internal micro-political wranglings between growers, rich proprietors, syndicats and so on. Never mind – ever onwards.
I will try and provide an update for the two aforementioned Bordeaux classifications in the next couple of weeks, before I take my customary summer break, but I have made the Chaume update today. For those unfamiliar with this small appellation, it is an excellent source of sweet wine from the Coteaux du Layon as even when it was good old simple “Coteaux du Layon-Chaume” it was restricted to lower yields, 25 hl/ha, than the other six communes of the Layon (it is 30 hl/ha for other named communes, eg St-Aubin, 35 hl/ha for generic Coteaux du Layon). In September 2003 it was renamed Chaume, Premier Cru des Coteaux du Layon – this was subsequently repealed in July 2005 returning the appellation name to its original. Then in late 2006 it became Chaume. The latest news is that now having upset the syndicat of nearby Quarts de Chaume this new name has also been repealed, and we are back to Coteaux du Layon-Chaume again. The appropriate section of my Loire wine guide has been updated. But what will be next? Coteaux du Chaume? And is there any point to it all?