Domaine des Baumard
In recent years the focus of attention at Domaine des Baumard seems not to have been the wines, but rather the controversy that has grown up around the proprietors Florent Baumard (pictured below) and his father Jean Baumard, an Anjou elder statesman if ever there was one. This controversy grew around the birth of the new Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru appellation, and the Baumards’ persistent opposition to the rules laid down in the new appellation’s cahier des charges, opposition which was only finally put to bed in 2014 when their legal challenge was finally rejected by the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court. The new regulations embodied within the appellation guidelines mean that practices at Domaine des Baumard are set to change.
After several years of legal wrangling and discord among those working in the appellation, it is surely now time to put this chapter in the story of Domaine des Baumard behind us, and to focus once again on the wines. After all, despite recent events no-one can deny the continued significance of the domaine to the Quarts de Chaume appellation. During the early years of his tenure here Jean Baumard was one of a handful of vignerons who kept lit the torch of Anjou moelleux, alongside the likes of Jacques Lalanne at Château Belle-Rive and André Laffourcade at Château L’Écharderie. It was also Jean who first proposed that the Quarts de Chaume appellation be elevated to grand cru status, as long ago as 1968.
It is not just in the Quarts de Chaume appellation that the domaine has historical significance though. This is also true of other appellations, most notably Savennières. Jean Baumard made history when, in 1968 (obviously a very busy year for Jean), he was the first Angevin from south of the Loire to look across the river and invest in the vineyards of Savennières. He acquired vines in Clos du Papillon and Clos de Saint Yves, vineyards which remain in the hands of the Baumard family, more than four decades later. The wines from these vineyards, in particular the Clos du Papillon, are iconic examples of the appellation, and this cuvée as well as the Baumard family’s Quarts de Chaume serve as introductions to these two appellations for many. This is because Domaine des Baumard is one of the Loire Valley’s rare ‘breakthrough’ domaines (a small club whose members also include Clos Rougeard and Didier Dagueneau), domaines which have crossed from the realms of geekdom, making wines of interest only to Loire fanatics, into the mainstream wine consciousness (which usually means being featured in The Wine Spectator or similar).
This profile looks in detail at the story of Domaine des Baumard, including an in-depth examination of the vineyards and winemaking. I begin first with some history though, which taking into account the significance of the domaine is perhaps not as lengthy as you might at first imagine.