Patrick Baudouin Quarts de Chaume Les Zersilles 2011
During my most recent trip to the Loire Valley I spent most of my time around Chinon and Bourgueil, calling in on Bernard Baudry and Château de Minière, among others. My only excursion to more distant lands was downriver, to Anjou, where I stopped off at Domaine Ogereau and Domaine de la Bergerie. On the first of these visits I headed out into the vines with Emmanuel Ogereau, checking out the source vineyards for their Bonnes Blanches, Spilite, Côtes de la Houssaye and Quarts de Chaume cuvées. Perhaps the most informative of these visits was that to the Côtes de la Houssaye, because until that moment I had never been quite certain as to the location of these vines. But the visit that touched the soul most readily was our quick tour of the Quarts de Chaume.
I feel there is something quite magical about the Quarts de Chaume vineyards. Perhaps I view them through rose-tinted, sentimental spectacles, but I have returned to this small section of the Anjou vineyard many times, and I never tire of it. I think part of the magic is that I always feel slightly disorientated, never being quite sure in which direction lies the Layon, or St Lambert du Lattay, or any of the other local landmarks which can be spotted from other vineyards along the Coteaux du Layon. I think this strange sensation stems from my first ever visit to the vineyards to Château Belle-Rive, many years ago. Walking around the vines of the Belle-Rive lieu-dit there seemed to be only vineyard and sky, as if I were standing in an amphitheatre of vines. Which, as this lieu-dit is near the bottom of the slope above the Layon, is not too far from the truth.
Local vignerons are also drawn to this appellation, the most famed terroir along the banks of the Layon. Vincent and Emmanuel Ogereau recently acquired some vines here, their first vintage being 2015. We checked out their vines which are in the Martinière lieu-dit, not far from the village of Chaume, on a slope which affords a view to the west, across the vines of Domaine des Baumard. I have written of this new addition to the portfolio before, in my 2015 Domaine Ogereau update and 2016 Domaine Ogereau update, and I am delighted to now have some bottles in my cellar (no doubt it will feature on these pages again before too long). For the moment though, the wine featured here comes from another leading light of Anjou, Patrick Baudouin. His vines are located in the Zersilles lieu-dit, which is on the eastern periphery of the appellation, just up the slope from the aforementioned Château Belle-Rive and also Château de Suronde.
Patrick Baudouin has had vines here since 2008, and has made wine in every vintage since except for 2008 itself (a difficult vintage with early frost and insufficient concentration at the end), 2012 (a very wet harvest when only two domaines made any Quarts de Chaume) and 2016 (frost again, this time decimating the crop). The 2011 vintage was one of the better years, with a warm spring, cool summer and long and warm autumn, so that although early-picked styles suffered it ended up being a very fine year for the later-picked reds and sweet wines. The yield this year was 7.3 hl/ha from 1.16 hectares of vines (which I reckon means a little over 1,100 bottles produced). The fruit was picked in four tries, fermented by indigenous yeast, and the residual sugar remaining in the finished wine is 164 g/l. In the glass the 2011 Patrick Baudouin Quarts de Chaume Les Zersilles has a classic orange-gold hue, with a touch of warm onion skin to it. The nose follows this classical theme, never putting a foot out of place, starting with scents of apricot and praline, yielding to a light caramel edge and a touch of lightly raisined fruit given time. Little notes of coffee bean and sweet, dark liquorice add some interesting complexity. The palate is richly polished, full and sweet, with hints of pepper and liquorice reflecting the character on the nose. There is beautiful harmony here, a mellifluous and polished style, elegant but reserved, yet rich, pure and also energetic. It has great length, of course. This is a very impressive wine. 17.5/20 • 95/100 (26/6/17)