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 a couple of yeas ago. 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. There is a bit imported these days but literally just bottles.
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.
There are actually two different Chinon Blanc bottlings at Baudry, the first being the Chinon AOC example with fruit harvested in the parcel known as Le Domaine on the upper limestone slope above the domaine itself. These are younger vines planted on limestone/clay soils which give the wine power and firm acidity. The hand harvested fruit is crushed and fermented in old 500 liter barrels. Just 12% alcohol and a lovely, fresh wine with quince, chalk and citrus blossom on the nose. Pure, focused fruit and a detailed mineral finish. Could use a bit of time in the cellar but gorgeous now.
The Croix Boissée is a very different animal. This is from older vine fruit from just about an acre of very low yielding vines at the very top of the Croix Boissée site which is composed of eroded limestone, clay and a bit of sand. This wine is at once more powerful and elegant than the AOC bottling with a lovely, complex nose of ripe pear skin, stone fruit and lime zest. Ever so subtly floral with ripe white fruit and chalky acidity. One of the most sought after wines in the entire Loire Valley.