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Of course we love the Chinons of Matthieu and Bernard Baudry (which we have been buying since the 1989 vintage) and for good reason - this is one of the great domains of the Loire Valley with great vineyards, superb organic farming, perfect vinifications with zero SO2 added and aging in cement and carefully chosen used barrels with a minimal dose of SO2 at bottling - all done with enormous intelligence and zero ego!
We're very happy to feature the just arrived 2022 "Les Granges." From 35 to 40 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils with a bit of clay near the Vienne river in organic agriculture. Hand harvested, fermented with wild yeasts, ages for 8 to 10 months in cement vats, minimal addition of SO2 only prior to bottling. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. "...a beautifully classical nose of dark berries, black cherries, tree bark, a dollop of juniper berry, a lovely base of gravelly soil tones, espresso and cigar ash. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a good core of black fruit, fine soil undertow, moderate tannins and lovely length and grip on the still quite youthful finish." says the View from the Cellar and we couldn't agree more - drink this lovely wine, served cool, over the next three to five years.
The Baudry "Cuvée Domaine" is always one of our favorite Loire reds. It's an old-fashioned Chinon from a blend of terroirs, beautifully expressing the limestone and clay of Saint-Louans and the gravelly soils in Cravant. And each year the vintage is shown with great transparency, which brings us to the very difficult harvest in 2021. "The most difficult vintage we've had up to now" says Matthieu. but happily ending with sunshine at the end of September and early October. In the end "2021 is a very well-balanced Loire-style vintage" says Matthieu, and it shows in the very pretty and quite delicious 2021 Cuvée Domaine. We have to go back to 2014 for a similar wine, at 12% alcohol, with a lovely bright color and beautifully floral red berry fruits. After a day open, complex earth, mineral, herbal and vegetal notes emerge. The palate is fresh and relatively light but with good density of red and black fruits with firm acidity and chalky mineral notes, showing the classic limestone terroir in Saint-Louans. Delightful, and very versatie at the table, serve a bit cool with just about anything. (PS - we love to cellar this wine - the 2010 is drinking beautifully now - but perhaps 5 to 8 years is best for the 2021)
Domaine Francois Pinon
2020 "les Trois Argiles"
Since taking over from his father in 1987, Francois Pinon brought the estate into the top rank in Vouvray, particularly with a superb array of sweet wines in 1989 and 1990. Joined by his son Julien in 2015, the Pinon's have produced a brilliant series of wines that are delicious upon relaease and that will cellar magnificently for 20 to 30 years and more. Just arrived in the US is the 2020 "Les Trois Argiles!" The wine is from average 40 year old vines in three east facing parcels, Mortier, Vau Cheavreau and Les Fosses Rouges. The soils are shallow clay and sandy clay over the limestone (lower Turonien). Many old vines remain, planted by Julien's great-graandfather, Camille, and new plantings are done by massale-selection. Organic farming, of course, with manual harvesting in successive "tries" sorted by hand to select the best grapes, vinification in barrel with wild yeasts, aging in barrel or foudre with minimal racking or SO2. The clay soils usually give a denser and less aromatic wine than those from silex soils, capable of aging for 30 years or more. Here is Loire expert Chris Kissack (the Wine Doctor) describing the 2020 "Les Trois Argiles:" "It does not seem so expressive on the nose today though (compared to the Silex Noir) but the palate is much more convincing. It shows a dense and compact character, with a rich core of extract and dense fruit, layers of white peach and orange peel, fragrant but solidly compacted, lifted by the vigorous acids and bright mineral veins I find cutting through the middle. A great demi-sec, with confident and forceful structure, which needs time to come out of its shell. The residual sugar is 20 g/l, and the alcohol is 13.4%." This was François' last vintage - we miss him terribly but the great work at this estate continues with Julien, as we have seen with his recent releases.
Let's get serious about Vouvray Brut - the Pinons certainly are! Although many of you have come to appreciate the great quality of the Pinon's Brut and Brut Non-Dosé cuvees, it's time to give them little bit of attention. Unlike the vast majority of Vouvray producers, including the top names, who use young vines and less ripe grapes for their sparkling wines, the Pinon's use vines that average 45 years of age from great terroirs on both silex and clay soils to make their Vouvray Brut, with the correct balance and sugar content to make a Vouvray sec. The resulting wines are delicious young, of course, but will also cellar fantastically for 20 to 30 years. They are, in my opinion, equal to Champagnes at three times the price. Of course, I can't find my notes but here is Chis Kissack again on the 2002 Brut, tasted at 20 years of age in 2022:
"It has a great colour in the glass, a polished golden hue with honeyed tones. There is still a perceptible bead, but it is very sparse, the glass showing just a couple of streams of emaciated bubbles. The nose is where things really kick off, with aromas of white truffle, chestnut mushroom, honeyed cashew nuts, buttered toast and wet rocks. The palate is limpid, a touch steely, very reserved at first, before it opens up in the middle, developing a softening texture, and more importantly a sinewy confidence, which is infused with a chalky infusion of intertwined pétillance, so subtle it feels integral with the wine, more mineral than mousse, and bright acidity. The complexity of age is hinted at all along, although it is in the finish that the dried (and even candied) orchard fruits and toasted nuts shine through. Long, sinewy and showing good concentration, this is just divine."
The 2019 Vouvray Brut on offer today is a particularly great example of the "regular" cuvee that receives a dosage of approximately 6 gr/liter. The 2018 Vouvray Brut Non-Dosé, from a strict selection of the ripest grapes is a superb wine - both should cellar beautifully. And don't forget the delightful Petillant Brut Non-Dosé Rosé!
We include some current stock, in case any of you have missed them... Most wines are in the shop, but please allow 3 days for pick-up or shipment and please note the 2020 Trois Argiles arrives approximately 10/23.
From 35 to 40 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils with a bit of clay near the Vienne river in organic agriculture. Hand harvested, fermented with wild yeasts, ages for 8 to 10 months in cement vats, minimal addition of SO2 only prior to bottling. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. In the 2022 vintage, the wine is a sheer delight, an excellent vintage for this lovely wine. It showed a beautiful bright red/black color with bright rim with vibrant, lush aromas of cassis, red currant and raspberry - perhaps prettier than the darker fruits in the 2018 - 2020 vintages? The palate is dense with deep, vibrant blackberry and raspberry fruit, with earth and minerals, bright and balanced given the roundness and ripeness of the vintage. This is a delicious Chinon to drink a bit cool over the next five to eight years. Quantities get smaller for this wine every year, so don't delay in trying this very special Super Delicious Cabernet Franc!
The Baudry Chinon "Domaine" is always one of our favorite reds from the Loire Valley and it's a sensational value as well. All Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay over limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and cement with almost no added SO2. We have to go back to 2014 for a similar wine to the 2021, at 12% alcohol, with a lovely bright color and beautifully floral red berry fruits. After a day open, complex earth, mineral, herbal and vegetal notes emerge. The palate is fresh and relatively light but with good density of red and black fruits with firm acidity and chalky mineral notes, showing the classic limestone terroir in Saint-Louans. Delightful, and very versatile at the table, serve a bit cool with just about anything. David Lillie
This classic dry Chenin is the perfect sparkling wine for Thanksgiving! The Chenin's of Pinon are some of the best in Vouvray due to their impeccable farming, diversity of clay, limestone, and silex soils, and deliberate, albeit low-intervention, cellar work. The Vouvray Brut comes from 45 year-old vines that are hand-harvested during the first pass of the season. It is made in the traditional method with two to three years resting on the lees before disgorgement with a 6 g/l dosage. The 2019 Brut is a delightful wine showing elegant aromas of quince, pear, brioche, citrus and mint, bright and fresh, but with more ripeness and density in this excellent vintage. The palate shows an elegant mousse with superb density and weight, with flavors of white fruits, quince, peach and honey with firm chalky acidity, and finishing with white fruit, almond and mineral notes, quite clean and refreshing. Lovely wine, and capable of long aging. (Please serve in a white wine glass, not a flute, in order to enjoy the complex aromas...)
The grapes for "Les Déronnières" from Julien Pinon (first made in 2014) used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. The very thin topsoil is clay with silex over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec, but in recent vintages the RS level has been below 10 gr/l making it dry, in Vouvray anyway. The 2022 finished with just 1 gram RS and 4.5 grams acidity, making this bone-dry but dense and beautifully balanced "Deronnieres" showing elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very dense and ripe, saline and mineral with round white fruits, citrus and herbal notes with fabulous length. A great dry Vouvray with fantastic minerality which is a versatile "food wine" to enjoy now, but don't forget that this wine will age forever....save some for the next generation!
100% Chenin Blanc. Pinon chooses vines from more clay-forward parcels for its annual sec bottling. They average 45 years old and have been certified organic since 2007. The bunches are harvested by hand, rigorously sorted and direct-pressed slowly and gently. The juice flows by gravity into underground tanks for a spontaneous native-yeast fermentation that lasts 2-3 months and stops naturally in the cold cellar. The wine is aged on its fine lees for 4-5 months in a range of old oak, from 500-liter demi-muids to 20-hectoliter foudres. The 2022 Sec is indeed very dry with 2 grams/liter RS and a brisk 4.6 grams acidity, and shows aromas of citrus confit, almond, green tea, stone, anise and white fruits. The palate has vibrant acidity with saline mineral flavors, and good density, with green apple and lemon zest, finishing with firm acidity, citrus, apple and wet stone. Give this young wine some aeration (!) or a few years in the cellar then serve with shellfish and oysters, grilled fish, vegetable terrines, seafood choucroute, rillons and rillettes (you may have to go to Touraine for those..) And try to hide some for 20 years or more as we've tasted 40 to 50 year-old Pinon Sec that was fantastic.
The 2020 Pinon Vouvray "Les Trois Argiles" is from average 40 year old vines in three east facing parcels, Mortier, Vau Cheavreau and Les Fosses Rouges. The soils are shallow clay and sandy clay over the limestone (lower Turonien). Many old vines remain, planted by Julien's great-graandfather, Camille, and new plantings are done by massale-selection. Organic farming, of course, with manual harvesting in successive "tries" sorted by hand to select the best grapes, vinification in barrel with wild yeasts, aging in barrel or foudre with minimal racking or SO2. The clay soils usually give a denser and less aromatic wine wine than those from silex soils, capable of aging for 30 years or more. As we have been friends of the Pinons for more than 40 years, and are somewhat biased in our enthusiasm for their wines, we will let Loire expert Chris Kissack (the Wine Doctor) describe the 2020 "Les Trois Argiles:" "It does not seem so expressive on the nose today though (compared to the Silex Noir) but the palate is much more convincing. It shows a dense and compact character, with a rich core of extract and dense fruit, layers of white peach and orange peel, fragrant but solidly compacted, lifted only by the vigorous acids and bright mineral veins I find cutting through the middle. A great demi-sec, with confident and forceful structure, which needs time to come out of its shell. The residual sugar is 20 g/l, and the alcohol is 13.4%." 2020 was the last vintage produced by Francois and Julien together. Francois always felt that their vineyards, being slightly higher and cooler than most of Vouvray, produced grapes with slightly more acidity, that benefitted from the presence of residual sugar. The 2020 "Trois Argiles" might be called Sec-Tendre or Demi-Sec, but at any rate, it's a magnifient wine! David Lillie
François and Julien Pinon make some of the finest sparkling wines in the Loire Valley. The superb Brut Non-Dosé comes from 45 year-old Chenin Blanc vines on Turonien limestone with topsoils of clay with silex, from four parcels; Les Haut de Terne, Les Hauts de Mortiers, Chopet and Les Planches Favettes. The 2018 was hand-harvested in three passes in order to select the best grapes, with two additional selections - on a "table de tri" and again before the press. Thus the best and ripest grapes are selected, enabling this cuvée with no addition of sugar, as in a Champagne Brut Nature. Aged sur-lies for more than 3 years. This beautiful wine shows elegant aromas of ripe white and yellow fruits, floral and earthy with almond and bitter lemon. The palate is creamy and dense, round and ripe but with firm underlying acidity, with almond, earth and mineral notes lingering in the long finish. Enjoy it now for its beautiful depth and balance, but peak drinking will be 2032 - 2050. A profound Chamapgne of Chenin! David Lillie
50% Cot and 50% Grolleau, organically farmed in Vouvray by Julien Pinon, partially from very old vines of Cot planted by Julien's great-grandfather. This is an elegant and very delicious Pet Nat that will accompany just about anything and is delightful as an aperitif by itself. The aromas are quite pretty with ripe raspberry, strawberry and red currant with hints of rose and blood orange. The palate is fresh and creamy with raspberry and tart strawberry with a nice mineral kick and sappy fruit in the refreshing finish.
From the estate's website: "This is the renaissance of a cuvée created by my great-grandfather - a dry wine from our oldest parcel, planted in 1945 on soils of silex noir and vinfied in our oldest foudres - old 'tonneaux' from Porto purchased by my grandfather. We're using the label from the 1950s as well as the name of the cuvée - the famous 'Buvéz du Bon Pinon.' The fermentation lasted 2 to 3 months with only wild yeasts, which participate in the effect of 'terroir.' The fermentation was stopped by chilling the juice, followed by a soutirage, the wine then aged for 5 months in the old tonneaux. Aging potential of 15 to 20 years, serve with shellfish, oysters, cold fish, vegetable terrines, choucroute de la mer, rillettes and rillons." 7 grams/liter RS, 13.5% alcohol. This superb and elegant Vouvray is quite a contrast from the more open and expressive 2020 Sec. The "Buvez du Bon Pinon" is all elegance and depth, but quite closed, and just slightly opening on day two. The aromas are deep and creamy with subtle white peach, quince, earth, almond and stone, really needs time... The palate is dense and full with white and yellow fruits blending with earth, almond, anise and mineral notes. The wine is showing density and perfect balance but will need many years to really emerge - like the Huet Le Mont Sec, for example, give it ten years before drinking if possible - or a 12 hour decant if drinking now. Of course it's delicious today but try to wait... David Lillie
(last of stock) Another outstanding Vouvray from our friends François and Julien Pinon in Vallée de Cousse, the 2018 "Trois Argiles" shows subtle, complex aromas of lemon, pear, earth, lime-flower, wet stone and almond. There is a hint of sweetness on the palate, perfectly balanced with firm acidity, with mineral flavors, white fruits, lemon peel and herbal notes. The finish is very long with citrusy acids and saline minerals. This is a beautiful young Vouvray that is delicious now with fish or chicken in sauce, Asian cuisnes, vegetable patés, asparagus and mild cheeses. This will gain complexity and become dryer with age, drink at least until 2050. 22 gr/liter RS., 4.1 g/L total acid. David Lillie