Domaine des Baumard, 2015 Update

There is no wine region without at least some controversy, and the Loire Valley is no exception to this rule, especially in recent years. There are several newsworthy stories I could highlight as examples, from the trial of Olivier Cousin through to the ongoing fragmentation of the regional promotional body InterLoire, which has so far been deserted by Bourgueil, Montlouis and the Fiefs-Vendéens appellations, and at the time of writing it seems as through Nicolas Joly, sole proprietor in the appellation of Savennières Coulée de Serrant, has also decided to leave.

Domaine des Baumard

Perhaps the longest running saga of all has been the painful rebirth of the twin Chaume and Quarts de Chaume appellations, as Premier Cru and Grand Cru respectively. The evolution of the Chaume appellation was almost farcical (I am sure there can’t be an appellation in France that has changed its name and status more frequently in the past decade) but it was with Quarts de Chaume that the real problems arose. Objections raised by Florent (pictured below) and Jean Baumard of Domaine des Baumard to the new regulations, drawn up by the INAO and the appellation’s syndicat, led by Claude Papin of Château Pierre-Bise, took the shape of a legal challenge which was not resolved until it reached the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court. But the pain in this affair extended far beyond the courts, pervading village life, taking on a very personal nature according to Florent. And it spilled into the wine press and social media, online in blogs and various wine discussion fora. It soon became difficult territory for wine writers, who are not by and large investigative journalists (myself included). I feel the majority of wine writers, most of whom pay the Loire Valley scant attention, were unaware of the complexities of the case, and of the intense passion that was involved, on both sides of the issue. Any such folks who happened to run blind into one or other of the relevant parties were at risk of being fed (and perhaps serving to their readers) a naturally one-sided and perhaps rather half-baked view of this affair.

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