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Thanksgiving may be over, but the arrival of the 2015 Chinons from Domaine Bernard Baudry is really somethng to be thankful for! When tasting with the Baudrys in January of 2016, then again last January, I have to confess to preferring the remarkably balanced 2014s, a vintage that will obviously cellar beautifully. Tasting the 2015s in bottle, however, shows them to be exuberantly delicious for early consumption and with enough structure and acidity to age nicely as well. In fact, the Baudrys are making some of the most consistently delicious wines in France through great organic farming, natural vinifications that are matched to each parcel, minimal extraction and appropriate aging in vats or used barrels that brings out the best in each wine. We are fortunate to have enjoyed the Baudry's Chinons since 1989 and we encourage you to try their beautiful 2015s!
An overview of the 2015 vintage, from the Baudrys: "The Great Charmer: 2015 was the hottest year in Chinon in the past 50 years. The season started well with a good flowering and grape set in the spring followed by a hot and quite dry summer. The grapes developed in beautiful conditions and were concentrated by the dryness of the summer. The generous rains in September served to revive the vegetaton and nourish the grapes. We feared then that the grapes would be damaged by the rain, but the winds from the east at the end of Septemeber conserved the fruit in a superb, healthy condition, offering a much appreciated quantity after a few years of low yields. 2015 is a generous vintage thanks to the volume of wine produced, quite superior to the previous three vintages, but equally a generous vintage in that the aromas are expressed with beautiful intensity. The lighter cuvées are very "gourmande" and perfectly balanced for drinking young. The wines from the slopes, and the parcels with more clay, are equally quite forward but with beautiful concentration and an astonshing aromatic complexity in their youth. 2015 is a real "breath of fresh air" thanks to the volume produced and to the general quality of the wines."
Despite the relatively forward nature of the 2015 vintage - for those who like to cellar their Chinon - we expect the "Cuvée Domaine" and "Les Grézeaux" to age well for ten to fifteen years and the "Clos Guillot" and especially "la Croix Boissée" to age a bit longer. Also, despite the generosity of the vintage, international demand for these wines has increased, unfortunately resulting in decreased allocations for all - so don't delay! (Gardeners Please Note: When dining with the Baudrys, Bernard's wife Henriette served a dish of "crapaudines," the oldest known beet variety. It was incredibly delicious! They're not easy to grow but the seeds can be purchased on-line - give them a try!)
From 25 to 30 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay near the Vienne river. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudy 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.The nose is full of dark cherry, raspberry, bell pepper, crushed violets, and a touch of graphite. The palate is fresh, yet elegant, with a core of plush dark forest fruit with an underlying layer of herbasciousness and that wonderful Cab Franc pyrazine quality. A knockout wine to pair with roast chicken. This is drinking very well now, but I wouldn't hesitate holding onto it for a few more years.
Cabernet Franc from the Loire is one of the greatest choices for Thanksgiving - 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/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 casks with minimal added SO. The 2014 "Cuvée Domaine" was a sensational wine and really built to age, while the 2015 is a bit more round and forward, and even more delicious for current drinking. The wine shows a deep red/black color and beautiful aromas of ripe red and black fruits with hints of earth, roast meat, black pepper and violet. The palate is dense and sapid with supple strawberry and blackberry liqueur and mineral flavors lifted by bright acidity. The fruit is quite ripe but the wine is well balanced at 12.5% alcohol. This is a superb "Domaine" that is a bit less structured than the 2014 - it's delicious now and will be singing in 2027 as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
From 60 year-old Cabernet Franc vines on a gravel soil over sandy clay and limestone at the bottom of the hill of Sonnay in Cravant. Aged 12 months in 3 to 10 year-old barrels. Dark black/purple color with quite floral blackberry and strawberry aromas, with a bit of earth, spice and citrus. Very silky and supple on the palate ("We don't extract anymore" said Matthieu) with stony black fruits, meaty, chalky and long. Good acidity in the finish with graphite and velvety black fruits, quite elegant and closer to the 2014 in style than the other cuvées. This is a lovely "Les Grézeaux" and is highly recommended for early drinking or ten to fifteen years of cellaring. David Lillie
(Last few cases!) Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permits a tiny production from franc de pied vines) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in two to five year-old barrels, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. The 2015 Le Clos Guillot is absolutely beautiful, showing elegant aromas of blackberry liqueur, violets, stone and roast meat, a bit darker than Les Grézeaux, lovely and ethereal. The palate is dense and silky with blackberry and black raspberry fruit, ripe and sapid, perfectly balanced and bright with a firm mineral core. The finish is long and pure. While this is beautiful now, cellaring of seven to ten years should reveal a profound mature wine, then drink until 2035+ David Lillie
From a tiny parcel in La Croix Boissée, with 15 to 25 year-old Chenin vines on thin sandy clay soils over limestone. Slow fermentation in 500 liter tonneaux until "sec" - under 2 grams per liter of residual sugar. The 2016 shows aromas of green pear, citrus, almond, lime-flower and stone, more subtle than the riper 2015. The palate is dry and elegant with almond and white fruit flavors backed with firm acidity and mineral flavors. This is an stylish young Chenin Blanc that will accompany any mild-flavored seafood dish, or cellar ten to fifteen years for a more complex experience. David Lillie