Next stop on the Loire adventure was Chinon, with Matthieu Baudry of Domaine Bernard Baudry. The domaine was created by Bernard, father of Matthieu, back in 1975, and Matthieu joined in 2000. His dad is technically retired but is still involved. This is mostly a red wine domaine, and is devoted to Cabernet Franc, with just a bit of Chenin Blanc.
Matthieu is terroir focused, and Chinon has some quite distinct terroirs. Some of his vines are on the alluvial part of the appellation, near the river. Then there are some on the slopes, and some on the plateau. All three producer different expressions of Chinon.
Even within each of the three main areas, the soils differ. The alluvial portion has well drained sandy soils, some gravelly soils, and even bits with more clay. On the slopes, there are two kinds of limestone: white and yellow. Matthieu tells us to think of the plateau as the Hautes Cotes of Burgundy. Here there are rocky sands over limestone.
Winemaking involves various forms of elevage, from cement to oak, with no new oak (225/8 litre barrels for reds and demi muids of 500 litres for the whites). ‘The winemaking has to be as natural as possible,’ says Matthieu. ‘If you add things like yeast or nutrients or enzymes you interfere.’ He doesn’t filter or fine except for the young wine, Les Granges, which sometimes needs to be released early.
In the vineyard, the soils have been ploughed since the domain was established. ‘We have never used herbicides,’ says Matthieu. ‘We plough the soils and work organically. Herbicides are, for me, the enemy of terroir expression,’ he says. ‘It takes 10 years for a vine to get a deep root system. If you use herbicides you don’t help the vine to get nutrition.’
He’s a big fan of wines from limestone. ‘You get it just after the fruit and it makes you salivate. Limestone makes you thirsty. It makes you want to live; it makes you want to eat.’
In 2016 he lost about half of production, mostly from the alluvial soils, because of frost. This year he reckons the April frosts will cost him 10% of the vineyard. ‘It has been a tough year.’
Domaine Bernard Baudry Les Granges 2016 Chinon, Loire, France
(from tank) This is the entry level wine from alluvial soils, matured in cement tanks. Fresh, vivid and concentrated with bright, balanced raspberry and cherry fruit. Lively with lovely fresh fruit. Will be bottled in September. 91-93/100
Domaine Bernard Baudry Cuvée Domaine 2015 Chinon, Loire, France
This is 80% plateau (sand and limestone) and a portion is young vines. 15 months in cement tanks. Aromatic chalky/gravelly nose with tight raspberry fruit. Fresh, vivid and juicy on the palate with nice weight. Fresh and delicious with good acidity and a fresh, saline edge. 93/100
Domaine Bernard Baudry Les Grezeaux 2015 Chinon, Loire, France
‘The Gravels’: this is more rocks and pebbles with sand and clay. Gravelly, spicy and dense with nice grip under the raspberry and cherry fruit. So expressive and taut with grainy tannins. Chunky and dense but fine. 92/100
Domaine Bernard Baudry Le Clos Guillot 2014 Chinon, Loire, France
From the slopes: clay and yellow limestone. Dense and vivid with focused black cherries and blackcurrants. Nice acidity with some grip on the tannins. Has freshness with tight tannic structure. 93/100
Domaine Bernard Baudry La Croix Boisée Rouge 2014 Chinon, Loire, France
This vineyard has 2 hectares of Cabernet Franc and 0.9 hectares of Chenin Blanc. It’s sand and clay over white limestone. Complex and dense with good structure, and powerful blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Good acidity and firm tannins. Grippy and focused with lovely purity and a fine, chalky finish. 94/100
Domaine Bernard Baudry La Croix Boisée Blanc 2016 Chinon, Loire, France
From barrel: almost finished fermenting. Slightly salty and with some sweetness and a ice spicy edge to the pear and white peach fruit. Will be lovely.
Domaine Bernard Baudry La Croix Boisée Rouge 1999 Chinon, Loire, France
Lovely finesse here: bright with smooth red cherries and a hint of earth. Fresh acidity and nice texture. Has a harmonious with a chalky edge. Lovely finesse here with some grip on the finish. 93/100
Domaine Bernard Baudry Les Grezeaux 1990 Chinon, Loire, France
Supple and very fresh with fine, sweet cherries, raspberries and some spice. Harmonious and elegant with fine tannins and a hint of earth. Smooth ripe and textured, and really beautiful. 95/100
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