le tasting room

Loire wine tours, tastings, day trips from Paris & short breaks organised by experienced English wine trade professionals.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Vert de l'Or - Baumard

While tasting at Domaine des Baumard in Rochefort sur Loire the other day we purchased a bottle of Vert de l'Or. The name is a play on words. The name Vert de l'Or sounds like the grape variety from which the wine is made, Verdelho.

A Portugese grape variety most closely associated with the wines of Madeira, it's rare to find it in France but was apparently introduced to the Loire in 1810. It has always been bottled as a table wine and has no information concerning either the vintage or the grape variety on the label as prior to 2009 this was not permitted.

2009 saw the introduction of new legislation allowing table wines to be renamed Vins de France and enabling both a vintage and a grape variety to be stated on the label. Good news you might think - no so for Domaine des Baumard and Vert de l'Or. Despite its history, Verdelho became increasingly rare after the 1950's and when a definitive list of grape varieties was published in 1955 it was not mentioned. It was also not included in the 'Catalogue Officiel des Variétés de Vigne cultivées en France' published in1995. The result of this is that under todays legislation, this wine is illegal and Baumard has been told it cannot produce it any longer.

A great example of crazy French legislation. An unusual wine made by a quality producer who discovered it by accident in the vineyard some years ago and vinified it separately is now no longer permitted to make it because it does appear on an official list of grape varieties.

To the wine - it's pale in colour and has a crisp Spring freshness on the nose and palate. Good acidity makes it a flexible food wine that would be good with seafood, fish and white meat dishes or as a crisp aperitif on its own.

As a grape variety, budburst, flowering and ripening are all a little in advance of Chenin (around 10 - 12 days). Picking the right moment for harvest is crucial to ensure good fruit flavour and balance.

In my opinion it would be a great shame if Baumard is forced to grub up this small parcel. I gather they are currently in discussion with the authorities in an attempt to try and stop this happening.

I think we paid around 6.50 Euros for it and although it's not a wine that will change the world, - for the historical interest, the rarity value and the story, I for one am happy to pay for that.