2014 Chateau de L’Echarderie, Quarts de Chaume, Grand Cru, Loire Valley, France.
The beautifully crafted Quarts de Chaume from Chateau de L ‘Echarderie and vigneron Pascal Laffourcade shows a perfectly proportioned sweet palate of lemon curd, peach, quince, dried pineapple and apricot preserves along with classic straw and honeycomb, making it a fabulous dessert wine with lovely concentration, complexity, an elegant round mouth feel and a nice cut of acidity that keeps things in balance. It’s a shame people are so afraid of sweet wines, because wines like this brilliant effort, when paired with the right dishes can be truly extraordinary as this one was with foie gras and a few other goodies, including farm cheese and even a caviar dish. Founded by André Laffourcade in 1958, Chateau de L’Echarderie, uniquely, focuses entirely on sweet wines. After which In 1970, his son Pascal succeeded him taking over the winemaking duties at their Quarts de Chaume estate, Chateau de l’Echarderie, where for almost half a century he has produced exceptional late harvest Chenin Blancs. The Loire’s Quarts de Chaume, Vouvray and Bonnezeaux produce wines that easily rival Sauternes, Barsac and Tokay for quality, though sometimes they get overlooked and they remain incredibly good values.

The Chateau de L’Echarderie sits on 10 hectares of brown schist and sandstone soils in the Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru region, which comprises terroirs on both banks of the Layon River, is owned by the Laffourcade family who have serious holdings here in the Anjou area, including Quarts de Chaume, Bonnezeaux, and Savennières. The Chateau’s Chenin Blanc vines are on slopes with a ripe south/southeast exposure and has optimal conditions for the growth of the noble rot, Botrytis Cinerea, which make these Quarts de Chaume wines some of the greatest sweet wines in the world. To make their Grand Cru Quarts de Chaume the winery hand picks their Chenin, from the schist and sandstone soils here, with grapes seeing passerillé, affected by Botrytis with the must having a minimum sugar content of 323 g/l. All per the rules of the AOC and only 11% alcohol is required here, leaving a good dose of residual sugar not fermented. The wine is soft pressed to barrel at low temperatures and is matured, usually these fermentations take up to six months and the aging goes on well over a year, after which it is cellared for many additional years before release. Just starting to evolve, the golden hued L‘Echarderie with just a hint of oxidation and with some subtle truffle, mineral tones and lingering vanilla oak notes. There’s a ton to admire here, and like Huet’s gorgeous Vouvray Cuvée Constance Moelleux, it deserves much more attention!
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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