Quarts de Chaume is a highly respected sweet white wine appellation of the Anjou district in the western Loire Valley of France. Quarts de Chaume wines are made exclusively from Chenin Blanc (known here as Pineau de la Loire).
2003 Chateau de Suronde Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru Chenin, 500ml
Quarts de Chaume is the only Grand Cru in the Loire Valley. This old vine Chenin Blanc is harvested late in the fall when the grapes are more like raisins. With such tiny yields, the wine is truly a nectar of incomparable elegance. Golden hued from fifteen years of age, the wine is a melange of rich flavors. Think of orange and apricot jams stuffed into a baked apple with a dose of vanilla and oak draped over french toast. This is a rare and graceful sweet wine that is to be savored, respected and enjoyed.
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Appellation: Quarts de Chaume, Loire Valley, France
93 points, Cellar Selection, Wine Enthusiast
2004 Chateau de Suronde Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru Chenin, 500ml
“This late release is showing beautifully, with glazed peach and pear notes lifted by hints of orange zest, green tea and honeysuckle. Fleshy, unctuous and yet still fresh on a finish rounded off by a burnished edge.” Wine Spectator
The Loire Valley is bucolic region filled with historic wineries and serene vineyards of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc that watch the river flow. Chateau de Suronde is such a humble, quaint and charming winery, it’s a surprise to discover the one of the world’s finest sweet Chenins comes from such humble beginnings. This is truly a wine for the connoisseur. It is meditative, contemplative, and such a joy to drink.
There is no added sugar to this wine, and no acidification. It takes approximately 1 vine to yield 1 glass of this nectar. Truly a nectar!
Blend: 100% Chenin Blanc
Appellation: Quarts de Chaume, Loire Valley, France
In the early nineties, after raising his children, and having spent his career in the maritime industry, Francis Poirel began looking to purchase a wine-making estate and fulfill his dreams of becoming a winemaker. His goal was to take his place next to his winemaking friends and idols who were at the forefront of a “new wave” of winemaking which had rapidly spread in France during the 1980’s and 90’s. These were passionate winemakers who recognized that the future of modern winemaking was in fact a return to their roots and a more holistic approach to growing wine. Only by doing this, they believed, would the regional wines of France regain their deserved place in a world filled with a sea of mass-produced, homogenous tasting wine.
After a couple of years of searching, Poirel came upon a semi-abandoned estate in the prized Quarts de Chaume appellation. This magical spot for making sweet wine is situated on the northern banks of the Layon near the village of Rochefort-sur-Loire. The entire appellation is comprised of 41 hectares (102 acres), and it is entirely devoted to the Chenin grape, and more specifically sweet, late harvest and botrytis effected wines, for this is the area of the Layon where the noble rot botrytis cinerea is induced by the unique micro-climate. The appellation takes its name from the ancient practice of the church taking, as rent for the vineyards, one quarter of the harvest from this prime spot over the river facing the south. Poirel’s Château de Suronde is one of the seven original properties that make up Quarts de Chaume, and he farms seven hectares.
Poirel’s vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically. There are no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides used on the estate. It must be noted that Poirel is the only grower in the area to farm his vineyards in this manner. Fortunately the vineyards make up one large parcel that are unaffected by their neighbors. The grapes are harvested by hand in small wooden boxes over a long period of time. Normally this means five to eight passes through the vineyards in order to pick only those grapes that are perfectly suited to making up part of this nectar.
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Seems like this needs to be an even # split, 2, 4, 6, 8 etc., as there are two vintages.
I think the three of us, Klez, Scott and myself, are all at 2 each of the 2 vintages.
Time to start a second case? @markdaspark you at all interested to help out.
@ddeuddeg@InFrom I just grabbed 4, would have bought a case and looked for folks to split with in WNY but they sold out first, were you able to get a case @ddeuddeg, I’d be willing to split and cancel my order?
Late Harvest + Old Vines but mostly the Late Harvest part. Leaving the grapes on the vines until they turn raisin-like and are affected by noble rot, the combination of which yields sweet, deeply extracted flavors.
@kookie00 Chenin Blanc in California and in Loire have different purposes. In California Chenin Blanc is used for high-yield and juice to add cost-effective structure to other varietals. Quite a bit of the Cali Chardonnay we drink has a bit of Chenin Blanc in it.
The Mentida White Blend is a good example of a skillful winemaker’s skillful use of Chenin Blanc to make a good, cost-effective wine.
In Loire, Chenin Blanc is used completely differently, with yields less than half what a good Cali Chenin Blanc acre would yield. Chenin Blanc is the premium grape for premium (and expensive) white wine, that ages like crazy. If you see a case of 20 year old Loire white at an estate sale that no one else is touching because it’s “to old for a white, must be vinegar”, grab that case quick.
@dmcswiggen When I see a Loire Chenin Blanc, I figure if good it’ll go for a couple decades. This is the first late harvest such wine I’ve seen. I didn’t know they did this. My initial guess is this could do longer than that, perhaps very very long.
Historically these wines have surpassed Sauternes in their ability to age. I had a 1964 Quarts de Chaume that was in beautiful shape at over 30 years of age. Chenin Blanc Is a high acid grape, whereas Sauternes is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (high acid) and Semillon (los acid). Production is very limited in the late harvest appellations of the Loire, so they will remain obscure in relation to Sauternes.
@PeterW Wow, great to see you here!! Hope retirement is treating you great!! I’ve been reading your periodic blogs here on Casemates…always a wealth of knowledge! Although I still have a lot of Wellington in the basement, I miss your offers!!! I’m afraid to drink it, knowing what happens when it’s all gone! Just had your White Port over the past two weeks that sorta reminded me when I saw this offer. Something to sip late at night while watching my recorded programs on a NEO winter night with the fireplace on while everyone else is sleeping.
Well, we got the golden ticket this time! So we’ve done our best to taste the Chateau de Suronde Quarts de Chaume 2003 for you. Some thoughts:
Three of us tasted the wine – and all three enjoyed it. We started it with reasonably chilled, then had some more as it warmed up a bit. We didn’t have anything on hand to pair with it.
The wine is a very pretty golden color in the glass; if you didn’t know better, you might think it was a bourbon or scotch.
Swirled in the glass, the wine has serious, sticky legs. Sweet stonefruit on the nose.
The wine’s definitely sweet! It coats the tongue, evokes pear and peach flavors, and there’s clearly oak involved. I actually get an interesting taste of menthol (?) on the finish, too, now that it’s warmed up. I suspect that sounds bad, but it’s actually pleasant.
One thing I’ve read in the past is that a dessert wine should have enough acidity to cut through the sweetness. This wine isn’t cloying, but I’m not getting much acid. Definitely on the sweeter side of that spectrum.
Last note: My partner and I aren’t generally drinkers of dessert wine, so we probably won’t be going in for this. But it’s definitely nice for what it is. Hope that’s helpful!
Lets not forget Moulin Touchais Coteaux du Layon since we are talking about Chenin. Another reasonably priced dessert Chenin that they only release after 10 or 15 years iirc. Much less sweet but every bit as complex imho.
@HitAnyKey42 Yes, we should do this. If someone else with free shipping wants to front this, please do so, I’m in for whatever HitAnyKey42 and you (and Min) don’t take. If no one else will front, I will.