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Loire winemakers win Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru battle

France's highest court has quashed opposition to the creation of a Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru in the Loire, and producers hope it could prove a blueprint for the region.

Chenin Blanc grapes from the Quarts de Chaume 2011 vintage. Image: Jim Budd

The Conseil d’Etat, France’s top public administrative court, has rejected Domaine des Baumard‘s long-running legal challenge to the new Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru of 2011, as well as to the Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume.

‘I’m delighted by this decision, which brings to an end a conflict that has gone on for 20 years,’ said Claude Papin, president of the Syndicat des Producteurs de Quarts de Chaume.

‘Quarts de Chaume has long had a very special reputation. The Loire now has a grand cru and a premier cru. This clear hierarchy can now serve for other special sites in the Layon.’

Jean Baumard led the first attempt to have Quarts de Chaume promoted to grand cru status in 1968, as president of the local Syndicat.

However, he has opposed the legality of the most recent application, and in particular has challenged stricter rules that would ban ‘cryoselection’, a method of partially freezing grapes before pressing them at low temperatures to increase sugar levels.

The 2011 Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru bans cryoselection, albeit it can continue up to, and including, the 2019 harvest. France’s national appellation body says cryoselection is ‘barely if at all recommendable’ for AOC wines.

Written by Jim Budd

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