It's no secret that Bernard Baudry and son Matthieu are making some of the top wines in Chinon (for more on Domaine Baudry, click here) but even if you're a fan of these wines it may come as a surprise that there is such a thing as Chinon Blanc and that Baudry actually grows and bottles a bit of it. A tiny bit and it's great. I didn't even know they made a white until I saw Matthieu pull a bottle out from under a table for a local client at a wine fair in Angers last year. He poured me a taste and then explained to me that they made so little that it never made it past a few good restaurant and local retail customers in France amongst whom they have a rabid following. This is the first I've seen in the US and I bought all I could get which isn't very much and all there is in CA.
The Baudry's own and farm parcels across the Chinon appellation between Cravant les Coteaux and Chinon itself, a stretch of hillside sloping down to the river Vienne. These hillsides are generally composed of gravel near the river and gradually turning into clay and then limestone at the top. Baudry farms their great reds on the gravel and clay sections which give ripeness and depth to the Cabernet Franc but the sliver of limestone on the upper slope is much better for Chenin Blanc even though most still plant Cab Franc on these soils. As result, virtually all Chinon is bottled as red but the best examples of the rare whites, Baudry considered the reference standard, are the Loire Valley's best kept secret.
Chinon Blanc is only allowed to be made still and dry under AOC rules and it's a unique take on Loire Chenin. Bone dry, much more subdued aromatics, really quiet wines actually, and intensely structured with persistent mineral and acid qualities. More lime zest and crushed rocks rather than the floral, yellow fruit notes of the "other" Chenins in nearby Montlouis and Vouvray.