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Domaine des Baumard

Website: http://www.baumard.fr/

Domaine des Baumard is recognized for producing some of the most extraordinary dry white wines in the Loire and in France (some say the world!). The estate has a history that dates back to 1634 but it is Florent Baumard who crafts the elegant and complex wines of today. Florent's father Jean is the true founder of Domaine des Baumard: after taking the reins in 1955 he slowly developed and grew the winery and vineyards to what we see today.

The Domaine des Baumard estate comprises a seventeenth century maison (a converted Abbey) located in the tranquil town of Rochefort sur Loire. The vineyards are located in the AOCs of Savennieres, Coteaux du Layon and Quarts de Chaume. Within Savennieres Domaine des Baumard are one of three estates to own a portion of the famous Clos du Papillon vineyards. The complex volcanic, sandstone and granite soils of this vineyard produce 100% Chenin Blanc wines of outstanding intensity, complexity and ageing potential.

Florent is captivating. His depth of knowledge and intuition is what drives him and his wines reflect this character. He manages 40 hectares across the estate, all of which follow sustainable viticulture practices. Grapes are picked by hand but with such attention to detail regarding phenolic and sugar ripeness, that one bunch can be harvested up to three or four times. Florent has turned a few heads with his approach to vine training called Vignes Haute et Larges (VHL) which is all about allowing more space between vines and rows to obtain a large surface area of foliage, aid berry ripening and build soil health and complexity. He is not afraid to break traditions and promote change to improve vineyard health and sustainability but also is known worldwide as an ambassador for the Chenin Blanc of this region.

Florent talks of his 'terroir' with great pride. In the cellar he takes a minimal intervention approach allowing each vintage to grow and develop into a unique wine. Wines are fermented and matured in stainless steel to avoid contact with oxygen and capture fruit characteristics. Domaine des Baumard are true pioneers of the potential of the Chenin Blanc grape. Multiple vintages are available of Clos du Papillon - named so because the vineyard appears in the shape of a butterfly - that embody the typical pear drop, saline, ripe stone fruit characteristics but each a little different. The 2004 is showing real signs of bottle age with a dreamy white smoke and intense minerality you expect more from the nose of a bone-dry Riesling.

Florent believes in the value of aged Chenin Blanc (and so do we!) but the challenges of cork forced Florent to experiment with other options. After trials in 2003 and 2004 Florent switched his entire range to premium screw cap - which he explains is the same mechanism used in the medical indusrty. "If it's good enough for medical science, it's good enough for me!". This change caused a ripple in the industry for such a highly esteemed estate to choose screw cap but Florent is adamant it has been nothing but good news.