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Domaine Bernard Baudry in Chinon is indisputably one of the great wine domains of France!
Having enjoyed drinking and selling the beautiful Baudry "Les Grézeaux" and "Cuvée Domaine" since the 1989 vintage, I'm particularly happy to welcome the 2020s to Chambers Street! 2020 is perhaps a more "typical" Loire vintage, as Matthieu Baudry says "the wines are balanced and fresh, a bit less rich than the three precceding vintages. One finds again a more typical Chinon style with bright red fruit aromas, and the "vins de garde" will age gracefully thanks to their freshness and beautiful acidity." Both the "Les Grézeaux" and "Domaine" will be delicious as young wines and 10 to 20 years in the cellar will create a wonderful mature expeerience. (The 2010 Domaine is drinking perfectly now!)
Matthieu continues: "Winter 2020 was mild but with sufficient rainfall to restore groundwater levels which were quite low after the 2019 drought.. Once again frost was a threat to the early budbreak, but no major damage was caused. From springtime onwards, rainfall gave way to some very fine weather and a prolonged dry spell. The Covid lockdown made for some nice walks under a bright sun in the pale green vineyard. A few days of rainfall in late April and early May stimulated vine growth and blooming started on May 20. Lack of rainfall during summer lead to an early harvest. Summer rains came in mid-August and boosted the much-needed ripening process of the berries. The whites were harvested very early, around September 10, while the first Cabernets were picked from September 16 onwards."
Bernard Baudry began his domain in 1975 with two hectares, after working for the great Loire Valley oenologist and gourmet, Jacques Puisais. Gradually expanding the estate with great parcels on the varied terroirs of Chinon, Bernard and his son Matthieu now farm 32 hectares in the communes of Cravant-les-Coteaux and Chinon. All aspects of winemaking at Domaine Baudry are performed with the utmost intelligence and care: superb organic farming with their own composts, careful manual harvests, vinifications perfectly suited to each terroir with no added SO2 - only a tiny adddition as needed before bottling - and aging in carefully chosen cement or barrels, with no new oak in the cellar.
One of the most pleasurable red wines of the Loire Valley, the Baudry Chinon "Les Grézeaux" is from a unique parcel of old vines at the bottom of the slope in Sonnay (near Cravant-les-Coteaux) on a bed of gravel over a base of clay, sand and limestone. The grapes are harvested by hand of course and fermented with wild yeasts with zero SO2 added during vinification. Beginning in 2017, the wine ages in large cement vats by Nico Velo, which are slightly porous. Les Grézeaux always has an elegant silky texture and wonderful freshness, making it delicious as a young wine, combined with the ability to age beautifully for 20 years and more in good vintages.
2020 "Domaine" - 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 80% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 20% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Two-week fermentation in cement vats, then fifteen-month aging in unlined cement or oak vats. Bottling two springs after harvest. No filtration, almost no added SO2.
The Baudrys normally produce two white Chinons from Chenin Blanc, the "Cuvée Domaine" and "La Croix Boissée" - while they represent only 5% of total production, they are becoming more and more important as they express the terroir of the limestone/clay slopes with remarkable freshness and balance. The wines are tightly allocated. In 2021, yields were tiny, so only one cuvée was produced, labeled "Le Domaine," including the grapes from "La Croix Boissée," from thin soils at the top of the slope, and grapes normally in "Le Domaine" from other parcels lower on the slope in and around Cravant. This unique wine is a product of great terroir and the impeccable farming and winemaking of the Baudrys - it is essential for any lover of Loire Valley Chenin...
Scheduled to arrive this week, "Les Grézeaux" and "Le Domaine" Blanc are delayed, of course, until late September. "Cuvée Domaine" Rouge is in stock. 10% case/mixed case discount applies.
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. The 2020 shows a pretty red/black color with bright rim. The aromas are quite floral and bright, a pretty melange of boysenberry, black raspberry and tart cherry, very pure with hints of earth and pepper. The palate is supple, sapid and ripe and the tannins are round and silky. At 13% alcohol, the balance seems perfect. Firm acidity and mineral flavors are mostly hidden under the beautiful melange of ripe red and black fruits. This is a beautiful "Cuvée Domaine" that is sensational now, served slightly cool, and that will cellar ten years and more due to the firm acidity. We loved the rather brawny 2019 which needs a few more years to drink at its best - drink the 2020 while you wait but put some away as well. Very highly recommended, and thanks to the Baudrys for producing such honest and soulful wines. David Lillie
(10/18) One of the most pleasurable red wines of the Loire Valley, the Baudry Chinon "Les Grézeaux " is from a unique parcel of sixty year-old vines near the bottom of the slope in Sonnay (near Cravant-les-Coteaux) on a bed of gravel over a base of clay, sand and limestone. The grapes are harvested by hand of course and fermented with wild yeasts with zero SO2 added during vinification. Beginning in 2017, the wine ages in large cement vats by Nico Velo, which are slightly porous. Les Grézeaux always has an elegant silky texture and wonderful freshness, making it delicious as a young wine, combined with the ability to age beautifully for 20 years and more in good vintages. Tasted just before the bottling by our secret agent in France the wine was "very generous on the attack with a luscious and 'gourmande' texture which tightens in the finish with very appetizing bitter chocolate notes. Very marked by the gravel terroir with silky black/red fruits, showing the ripeness of the vintage, but vibrant and fresh." As Matthieu Baudry says, the 2020s are "balanced and fresh, a bit less rich than the three precceding vintages. One finds again a more typical Chinon style with bright red fruit aromas, and the "vins de garde" will age gracefully thanks to their freshness and beautiful acidity." "Les Grézeaux" is always superb as a young wine - the 2020 should be marvelous on arrival - perhaps, for those who can wait, peak drinking will be 2030 to 2040? I wish I still had some 1989... David Lillie
(10/18) The Baudry Blanc "Domaine" is normally from young vines in several parcels on the clay/limestone slopes in and around Cravant. Due to the tiny yields in 2021, the grapes normally in "La Croix Boissée," from older vines in the thin clay/silex soils at the top of the slope, were included in this cuvée to make one Chinon Blanc in this vintage. While we're sad that there will be no "La Croix Boissée" Blanc in 2021, this "Le Domaine" will be a beautiful Chenin to enjoy now or to cellar for perhaps ten to fifteen years. The grapes are hand-harvested of course and ferment slowly with wild yeasts in 500 liter oak barrels until dry, normally less than 2 g/l RS. The wine is aged on its fine lees in used 500-liter demi-muids until the June after the vintage and is very lightly filtered at bottling. Sulfur usage is minimal. Quantity is limited.