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The 2006 Domaine des Baumard La Calèche is a light golden wine that captures the beguiling charm and pastoral beauty of France’s Loire Valley. Like the countryside of this fabled part of France known as Le Jardin de France (The Garden of France), Baumard’s La Calèche captivates the senses slowly and imperceptibly. It is both subtle and ingratiating. As a special cuvée of Chenin Blanc from a number of Baumard’s Anjou vineyards, La Calèche possesses everything that a fine white Anjou has to offer: soft floral aromas that recall the seductive scents of an orchard in bloom; a multitude of flavors that unfold surreptitiously as the wine reaches for ambient temperature; and a light lingering finish that recalls the flavors of fresh quince and dried butterscotch. Most assuredly, La Calèche is a wine for good old fashioned drinking, or for the less inhibited, more forthright among us . . . guzzling. La Calèche possesses Chenin Blanc’s most endearing quality, a combination of floral seduction and a citrus twist. Interesting and pleasing in a straightforward format, we suggest drinking the ebullient 2006 Baumard La Calèche only moderately chilled (40º- 50° F), but only after you have given it a little time in a glass to collect its coquettish charms. Salut!
Although not a style of wine that most Americans are accustomed to standing around and sipping, the 2006 Baumard La Calèche offers an enchanting introduction to the realm of world class Chenin Blanc. Fish, poultry, and other demure, self effacing fare, will admirably complement the 2006 Baumard La Calèche, but by all means please do not stop there. Although light and easy, La Calèche, like most top rated Chenin Blanc wines, provides more than a passing complement to ordinary foods. Consequently, we suggest a daring hand in the kitchen. Why not start with a mild Loire Valley goat cheese like Sainte-Maure de Touraine and serve it with almonds, walnuts, and toasted French bread? A glass of La Calèche with this appetizer will set the tone for a rewarding evening. If a main course is more to your thinking, we suggest crab cakes, lobster croquettes with a mild salsa, or even sushi. Chicken or seafood crêpes offer yet another rewarding accompaniment to Baumard’s special cuvée. Mild Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes provide additional companionship to be enjoyed with La Calèche, so as you like it.
Domaine des Baumard lays tucked away in the tiny village of Rochefort-sur-Loire, just south of Savennières, at the very heart of the ancient Duchy of Anjou. This is an impeccably run estate that has been fashioning outstanding Loire valley wines since 1634. The historical Baumards are viticulturists who specialize in the great but nearly forgotten Chenin Blanc variety. Under the recent guardianship of Jean and Florent Baumard, Domaine des Baumard has soared to new heights, even as many of Baumard’s neighbors have struggled to maintain their marginal vineyards.
Although Domaine des Baumard has played a key role in producing great Loire Valley wines for centuries, much of the estate’s modern day lore can be attributed to Jean Baumard, Florent’s father, who resurrected this family property in the 1950s and 1960s after decades of decline due to phyloxerra, economic depression, and the ever shifting tastes of the wine drinking public. For decades the Baumards, like many of their neighbors were forced to concentrate their efforts on their nursery business and the cultivation of vines rather than wine making. That is until the 1950s when Jean began acquiring several of the greatest vineyards in Côteaux-du-Layon and Quarts de Chaume and refocused the family’s effort into the crafting of the greatest of all Loire Valley wines.
In the past decade, Jean’s son Florent, a brilliant winemaker in his own right, has continued the great renaissance at Domaine des Baumard. In fact, Florent may be the region’s finest winemaker. The Wine Advocate has stated that “Baumard quietly fashions some the world’s most complex dry and sweet wines . . . and if he had been born a Californian, Burgundian, or Bordelais, wealthy vineyard owners would be standing in line to employ his services as a consultant,” which is high praise indeed.
Presently, Domaine des Baumard has one of the most extensive portfolios of Anjou wines, including outstanding dry Savennières offerings, sweet treasures from Côteaux-du-Layon and Quarts de Chaume, a host of artful cuvées like La Calèche, and at least three of the Loire Valley’s most enjoyable sparkling wines. There are also a number of single vineyard offerings. All of Baumard’s Savennières and Côteaux-du-Layon wines are produced from low yields (1.5-2.5 tons per acre). Moreover, all of Baumard’s wines are hand harvested and each of the estate’s wines is made in small, individual lots, including the special cuvées La Calèche and Cuvée Ancienne de Jean Baumard.
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