Château de L'Echarderie
The prestigious and tiny appellation of Quarts de Chaume, a diminutive AOC in the heart of the Loire Valley’s Chenin Blanc territory, has been associated with the name Laffourcade for the past five decades. Devoted entirely to the production of sweet wine, Quarts de Chaume which comprises terroirs on both banks of the Layon River, sits on approximately 43 hectares of land, 19 of which, or roughly one half, came to André Laffourcade in 1958. In 1970, his son Pascal succeeded him and assumed the winemaking duties at their Quarts de Chaume estate, Chateau de l’Echarderie. He then launched on an ambitious project: to create wines of the three most prestigious Chenin crus of the Anjou region: Quarts de Chaume, Bonnezeaux, and Savennières. Laffourcade acquired his Bonnezeaux property, Chateau Perray Jouannet shortly thereafter and added the eponymous Savennières vignoble in 1988.
A favored enclave within the sweet wine appellation of Coteaux du Layon (more specifically within the commune of Chaume), Quarts de Chaume maintains strict legal regulations for its wines of Pineau de la Loire (Chenin). Grapes must be passerillé or affected by noble rot. If the must has a minimum sugar content of 323 g/l and no chaptalization is used, only 11% alcohol is required. Chateau de l’Echarderie sits on 10 hectares of brown schist and sandstone soils. Slopes face south/southeast (toward the morning mist of the Layon) to ensure the best conditions for growth of Botrytis Cinerea.
Average vine age for the Echarderie is 25 years; harvest is entirely manual with long maceration time, generally within the ballpark of 6 months. Production averages 15 ha/hl or approximately 2000 bottles.