2019 Domaine Bernard Baudry, Chinon Rouge AOC, Les Granges, Loire Valley, France.
These Bernard Baudry wines are always a treat and outstandingly pure and complex, with this Les Granges being a fresh and vibrant Chinon Cab Franc, meant to be enjoyed in its youth, it remains one of my favorite go to Loire reds, it offers more depth and presence than its price would suggest, it is a stupidly good value year in and year out. I became very familiar with the Baudry wines thanks to Kermit Lynch, the famous importer, and I have done many tastings over the last 15 years with these stylish wines, so it was good to catch up with a later release to see how the generational transition from father to son is going. The nose is earthy and spicy with a background note of violets reminding you where it is from and the medium bodied palate is alive with vitality and layers of red fruits, mineral, a iron sanguine element, anise and kirsch with a contrasting play between dusty raspberry and plum fruits with an old school touch of leathery brett, very faint green pepper and tangy orange/citrus and sour cherry notes. Things, with air, all together nicely to form a harmonious and satiny textured wine that needs food to be its best, it is perfect suited to these chilly Fall evenings and hearty food dishes. This dark, deeply hued garnet hued Les Granges Chinon is 100% Cabernet Franc that is fermented and aged solely in cement with indigenous yeasts and comes from organic grapes that were planted between 1985 and 1988 on a unique parcel set on sand and gravel that highlight the delicacy of this varietal. It is interesting that the Baudrys, Bernard and son, Matthieu who has taken a leading role here, work a collection of vineyards that are composed of varied soils, including gravel and sand, as in this wine, as well as limestone, silica, and clay, which is used for some of their upper end cuvées, like the rock gravel soiled and intensely stony Les Grézeaux, which comes from their oldest vines, over 65 years old and going strong. This Chinon Les Granges’ fermentation usually lasts about 15 days in cement tank and then gets a short elevage for between 7 to 10 months, depending on the vintage, again in cement tanks only to promote transparency and showcasing the sense of place and varietal character, it is a wine that rarely lets you down.
Matthieu Baudry, continuing in his father’s footsteps, joined the family domaine just over 20 years ago now in 2000 after he, like his dad, spent time in Burgundy studying winemaking in the Mâconnais, as well as in Bordeaux, along with far flung internships in Tasmania, Australia’s ultra cool climate Island and in California, giving him a balanced world view and experience. Mostly known for their Cab Francs, this estate also does some very lovely Chenin Blancs, including a fantastic barrel fermented and aged version from Chinon called La Croix Boissée (Blanc) which is slowly and naturally fermented and raised in large used 500L barrels, and Baudry, imported mainly in the states by Kermit Lynch, has become an icon Loire Valley producer, relying on, as most top are doing now, all organic methods in the vineyards and the utmost care in the cellar to hand craft wines of grace and precision, that can be enjoyed young, but that can also age well. Bernard Baudry began his own domaine and label in 1975, after doing enology school in Beaune, and returning to the Loire Valley to consult in Tours, starting with only two hectares of vines, and after working for the much admired Loire Valley oenologist and noted gourmet, Jacques Puisais, I understand, he slowly expanded adding some great parcels within the AOC of Chinon, of which he got some very distinct parcels with different soils and exposures, including classic chalky limestone as well as some rocky plots. Bernard has had a brilliant career and now his son Matthieu is now the main man here, and he and his dad farm 32 hectares in the communes of Cravant-les-Coteaux and Chinon. Besides the all organic farming with their own holistic treatments and composts, they carefully hand tend the vines and only employ manual harvests and their vinifications are done separately to highlight each terroir. Fermentation is done with native yeasts and with no added SO2, though they do use only a tiny dose if needed before bottling and the Baudry’s age their wines in cement or barrels, though there is no new oak in the cellar. It is also worth mentioning that Baudry do some fun stuff, like their Cab Franc Chinon Rosé and a tasty Grolleau “Franc de Pied” from what I believe is from an own rooted young vine parcel, to go along with their more serious efforts!
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive