Guide to the Loire regions

Chinon

Grower Profiles


Matthieu Baudry

Domaine Bernard Baudry
Bernard Baudry is understandably one of the most respected names in Chinon; the family name being synonymous with the appellation. A graduate of the lycée viticole in Beaune, Bernard started out his career as a viticultural advisor working alongside the legendary Jacques Puisais from an office in Tours. In 1975, he inherited two hectares of vines from his grandfather which instigated the founding of the domaine. Since then, the estate has grown to a total of 30 hectares, all of which are within either the communes of Cravant or Chinon with a total of 12ha now under the ownership of the family. Two-thirds of the vineyards are located on the plains and everything here, unusually for the appellation, is harvested by hand. 

Now officially in retirement (although still very active around the domaine), Bernard was joined by his son, Matthieu in 2000 after he completed his studies in Macon and Bordeaux and stages in different hemispheres (in 1998) at Pipers Brook in Tasmania and Carneros. Although very much in the mould of his father, Matthieu does at least have some new ideas and is vocal about his thoughts on the state of the appellation, advocating that the authorities should consider introducing a tiered quality-rated system to honour the regions best vineyards. More recently, intrigued by the variety, Baudry junior has planted some ungrafted Grolleau within the commune of Chinon. Needless to say, these vines will at some point be destined to produce a humble Vin de France

Both father and son are extremely kind and welcoming in their approach and generous with their time and the pair understand that there reputation has been built on a solid foundation of personal contact with their clients. My own views on their wines seems to run hot and cold; I felt that the wines had lost something with the arrival of the new generation, although I have been more impressed with the recent vintages I have tasted. That's not to say that I still find a degree of variability between the wines, even from bottle to bottle (as my notes below testify), but this is ultimately a very sound domaine working with the right motivation and set of clearly defined objectives. The Baudry's deserve their place at the pinnacle of the appellations 200-odd producers; even allowing for the odd rogue wine that slips through the net. 

THE WINES
Rosé
. There is limited capacity in the cellar to make rosé and it accounts for just 5% of the domaines production, with no potential to grow this further. The wines are produced from the alluvial parcels off the plain and the objective during the harvest is to produce a little each morning (using prssurage direct). The Baudrys prefer to conduct the malo-lactic fermentation to help soften the acidity. Chinon Blanc. This is one of a pair of white wines produced; the Chinon Blanc coming from a one hectare parcel planted in 2004 on the hillside behind the Château de Sonnay. The wine is fermented and raised in 500 litre barrels, where it spends around 6 months before bottling.
Domaine Bernard Baudry comes from vineyards on the limestone plateau (about 80% of the blend) with the balance from the plain. The vines for this cuvée date from the mid-1970s and the wine is raised in tank for one year before bottling. Les Granges is based on a six hectare parcel of vineyards on the deep alluvial soils of the plain below Cravant. The vines date back to the mid-1980s and this cuvée is the mainstay of the Baudrys production, delivering around 50,000 bottles each vintage. The wines are raised in cement tanks for between six to twelve months and bottled in two mis; spring and autumn. Les Grézeaux is based on a parcel of 6-70 years old vines on the plateau above Cravant; some plants dating back to 1945. The resulting wine is aged in older fûts for a year before bottling. Le Clos Guillot is a four hectare parcel located between Chinon and Cravant. Prior to 1962, it might have been considered part of the Bel-Air lieu-dit, but the land was sadly neglected until acquired and planted by Baudry between 1993 and 1998. It is notable in the fact that one hectare of ungrafted vines was planted here in 1994, although only one-third of this remains today; the rest having been ravaged by phylloxera. The first release was in 2001 with the wine traditionally fermented in large wood before being transferred to older barriques for around 12 to 15 months ageing. The separate Franc de Pied cuvée delivered just three barrels in 2008. La Croix Boisée is a south facing slope between Cravant and Panzoult. Baudry owns a two hectare parcel here which is planted to both Cabernet Franc and 0.80 hectares of Chenin (the latter producing what is perhaps the best single example in the entire appellation). The soils here are clay-limestone and the Baudry's red vines date back to the mid-1970s. The Chenin is a little younger, delivering the first wine in 1995 and is planted above the Cabernet. The red wines from this parcel are fermented in cement before being raised for 20 months in second-hand Burgundy barrels. The Chenin receives fermentation and 9 to 12 months ageing in 500 litre casks. 

TASTING NOTES:

2009 Les Granges
Deep, opaque appearance. Gravelly/earthy notes to nose and palate. This is serious, but with firm yet supple tannins and very good fresh acidity on the follow through. Well structured and characterful. Good length. Approachable now, but could last a decade or so. (04/11). A second bottle tasted (08/11) was less impressive, showing some advanced brettanomyces character with the wine appearing dried out on the finish. A different mis, perhaps?

2009 Domaine Bernard Baudry
Taut and mineral. Serious again. The wine relies more on its structure than its fruit profile, but there is good weight and concentration with a gravel-like profile to the tannins and there is a freshness to the acidity. Good length. Well made. This is approachable now, but will evolve further. (04/11) 

2009 Les Grézeaux
Noticeable oak, but well handled and integrated, the wine retains a good fruit profile to both the nose and palate. Very clean and fresh with some graphite-edged fine-grained tannins. Noticeable wood on the palate but well handled. Serious. Good length. This would benefit from another 2-3 years and has a promising future ahead of it. (04/11). A second bottle tasted (08/11) showed some signs of brettanomyces which indicates that there is a degree of inconsistency in bottles. This bottle was less than impressive. 

2007 Les Grézeaux
Both the nose and palate here are a little resinous. The palate is also a bit shallow and shows the weakness of the vintage. A decent if delicate style that retains the graphite quality of the site. Decent, but not for the long-haul. (04/11)

2000 Les Grézeaux
Dull. Opaque appearance. The palate is short, dilute and earthy. Falling apart with a distinct oyster-shell character. This has sadly lost its fruit with only the sensation of acidity and tannin remaining. (08/11)

2009 Le Clos Guillot
Very good concentration to the nose with notes of black and red fruits. Otherwise this is still brooding and backward; giving little away at this stage. Round and generous on the palate. Very soft and supple with an underlying minerality. This is very clean and pure. Retains great freshness and acidity. Persistant and gentle in style. Excellent. No evidence of the oak at all. (04/11)

2009 La Croix Boisée
Taut and mineral nose with a faintly savoury nose (read brettanomyces - although currently within my own level of tolerance). Deep, concentrated and chalky textured, something that Matthieu claims is consistent from this site. Elegant style, but needs to be closely watched going forward as this could eventually start to dry out. (04/11)

2006 La Crois Boisée
Dull, damp, mushroomy nose, although full bodied and concentrated. This shows the wood ageing a little. More champignon de paris on the palate. This is starting to dry out. Dull and ordinary. (08/11)

2000 La Croix Boisée
Mid-depth. Shows some evolution. This is very pure and clean on both the nose and palate. Distinct notes of lead pencil and graphite on the nose. The palate is soft on entry and retains some of the classic qualities of mature Cabernet Franc. Very fine grained tannins and great delicacy on the palate. This is mature but could equally evolve a little more. Chalky, powdery tannins to the finish. Very good. (04/11)

2009 La Croix Boisée Blanc 
Around 70% malo-lactic fermentation completed (this is not systematic). Lovely creamy, mineral nose. Very pure acid profile and a distinct chalky texture. There is a hint of volatile acidity which, if anything, helps to lift the wine a little. There is an element of phenolics or even carbon dioxide to the finish. This shows very good potential for ageing with aromas of white flowers and a real citrus edge. This is modern winemaking but shows both individuality and character. (04/11)

Matthieu Baudry
9 Côteau de Sonnay

CRAVANT-LES-CÔTEAUX
T: + 33 2 47 93 15 79
F: + 33 2 47 98 44 44
bernardbaudry@chinon.com




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