Chinon Blanc, Domaine Bernard Baudry
Nearly fifty miles upriver of Savennières, Chenin takes on a remarkably different personality. Rather than schist, the vines dig through compact strata of clay and powdery white limestone, imbuing the wine with ample flesh to coat its chalky core. A subtle kiss of oak from fermentation in 500-liter puncheons adds nuance and a fine grain. Baudry is among the Loire’s most reliable names for authentic, age-worthy reds produced via natural methods, and the same holds true for the domaine’s rare, precious blanc.
Bernard Baudry is one of the newer stars of the Chinon scene. A graduate of the Lycée de Beaune, Baudry created his 25-hectare estate out of family parcels and purchased land. He quickly rose to prominence in the appellation for precise, textured Chinon. Baudry is now retired and his son Matthieu, who has been making wine with his father since 2000 [not to mention working in New Zealand and California before making his way back home] has taken over as head vigneron.
Baudry’s style exemplifies rich, precise fruit picked at perfect ripeness levels and vinified cleanly using state-of-the-art equipment. The first release and most youthful wine is Les Granges. This is from young vines [25 years old] planted on alluvial soil and gravel near the riverbed. When the Vienne river floods in some springs, Baudry may be found pruning the vines from a boat. This is a wine that is supple and fruity with smoky cherry fruit and is meant to drink young. It is a perfect wine for simple foods and cheeses.
The Cuvée Domaine is a blend of parcels of older vines [30-35 years old] planted in alluvial gravel bed and hillside clay. It has bigger structure and can use a short aging period in bottle before drinking. The wine has deep, dark ruby color and is beautifully extracted.
Les Grézeaux is from vines of 40 years on average, planted on gravely soil with a bedrock of limestone and clay. The wine is aged in barrique for a time depending on the power of the vintage. The same goes for Clos Guillot, a 4 hectare plot of 10 year old vines Bernard replanted in 1995 on a site long abandoned since World War 2.
Finally, Croix Boisée comes from the Baudry's "Grand Cru" vineyards, 2 h exposed full south on clay and limestone. These wines are are a much more structured affair, hence there fermentation and aging in barrel for 2 years. A small amount of Chinon Blanc is also produced.