As the famous Revue des Vins de France pointed out a few years ago : Chinon has for a long time poorly managed its appellation. Many winemakers kind of dozed off over the years, hoping the reputation of their winery would be enough to sell their wines.
Luckily, things are changing. Conversions to organic farming are on the rise and for some time now, a new generation of young winegrowers is emerging alongside the older, well-established estates such as Charles Joguet, Philippe Alliet, and of course … Bernard Baudry.
In fact, the Domaine Bernard Baudry is a hybrid version of this story. The estate has been converted to organic farming for over 15 years now and Bernard has retired to leave is “young” son Matthieu at the head of the winery.
Domaine Bernard Baudry is a living proof a fairly large well established estate can produce high quality organic wines that make the best out of the exceptional terroir of Cravant-les-Coteaux (the village of the Chinon appellation from which are produced the best cuvées).
So, what makes the Domaine Bernard Baudry so special?
The great diversity of the vineyard’s terroirs.
A similar story of that of the Domaine de la Chevalerie, the neighbouring appellation. The vineyard is pread across a variety of soil types and slope expositions on the hillside near the village of Cravant-les-Coteaux.
The notion of terroir is unique, and undoubtedly typically French. What the English-speaking world has always struggled to translate, or in an approaching periphrasis: “sense of place” (on this subject I advise you to listen to the podcast Is Terroir Just French for BS? By Vinepair). In short, the notion of “terroir” expresses that the essence of a wine is intrinsically linked to the characteristics of the place where it is produced (and on condition that the winemaker knows how to magnify this terroir during the winemaking process).
It’s what you call “plot vinfication” : adapting the wine production process to the characteristics of the terroir in which the vines are located.
Each plot is harvested and vinified respectfully of the origins and particularities of each terroir. The high quality of the wines is linked to this particular approach.
So come Bernard Baudry wines : in different cuvée names.
Wines with names rooted in geography and their land of origin.
Les Granges is and easy-going big volumes cuvée, produced from sandy alluvial soils and aged in cement vats.
Les Grézeaux is a cuvée produced from the oldest vines of the estate (50+ years). It is aged in old oak barrels and produced from a mixed clay and gravel soil, giving the wine greater substance and complexity than Les Granges.
Clos Guillot is a hillside cuvée, produced from vines that are 20+ years old. It also aged in oak barrels, and produced from a clay over limestone soil. An elegant fresh Chinon, made for aging.
But let's get moving to La Croix Boissée.
This Chinon wine, as all Chinon wines is made from 100% Cabernet Franc. It is produced from a limestone hillside of white tufa shaped by strong erosion on a small plot of vines aged 15 to 40 years. Facing South.
La Croix Boissée is the flagship cuvée of the Domaine Bernard Baudry : mostly produced in red, it is also produced in very small quantities of white. The cabernet franc and chenin vines share the land. La Croix Boissée is a certified organic wine like all of the wines produced in Baudry vineyards.
I decided to open this cuvée La Croix Boissée to drink with friends on a nice warm summer evening a couple of weeks ago. This 2016 vintage was already very nice, although it could probably have aged 10 years more !
As a matter of fact, La Croix Boissée is the most structured of the Bernard Baudry wines and is considered to have the best aging potential.
Tannins were very present after opening and tasting on the spot. Two hours later after aerating and cooling it was just the perfect match with a Loire Valley cheeseboard.
Intense nose, the palate is pulpy, full, with stretched acidity, brilliant intensity, nice length. I recommend decanting a few hours before serving (oops, I think that was already mentioned).
To finish on a high note, a short quote from David Lillie, who wrote a wonderful “praise prose” post in the Chambers Street Wines.
"This is an amazingly beautiful Chinon, lovely, lively and wonderfully balanced, with firm acidity and very pronounced saline minerals. A wine to marvel at, not to write about - thanks to the Baudrys for their artistry!"
Where to buy Bernard Baudry La Croix Boissée?
Just like Philippe Alliet or Charles Joguet, Bernard Baudry is one of the “big names” of the Chinon appellation. As you can see, a “known and recognized” winegrower, here in Touraine, but also beyond the seas and borders! If this article made you want to taste this nectar, it is available on Vivino, at around €28 a bottle.