The third stop on our podcasting tour of the Loire Valley takes us to the famous Domaine Bernard Baudry for great Cabernet Franc from Chinon. I had a really wonderful visit with very warm and accommodating Matthieu Baudry. We talked at length about what makes the Cabernet Franc from Chinon special. The domaine focuses on single vineyard expressions of Cabernet Franc and Mathieu is enthusiastic about the soils and slopes of each. No visit to the Loire would be complete without a deep dive into Cabernet Franc and this podcast makes a great follow up to our visit with Jacky Blot where we talked about the other great Loire grape, Chenin Blanc.
Where We Have Been So Far
We started our tour of the Loire Valley at the Gadais Pere et Fils winery in the Sévre et Maine appelation in the Muscadet winemaking region near Nantes. Pierre-Henri Gadais was our host and he gave us a fascinating introduction to his precision approach to making sur lies Muscadet. There, close the Atlantic coast, Pierre-Henri focuses on terroir-specific wines, grown and made with extreme care. These wines have wonderful crisp acidity and bright fruit flavours. They also have a richness, depth and resonance that comes from sur lies aging.
Our second stop was a couple of hours drive east in the Loire Valley at Domaine La Taille aux Loups. There we met with Jean-Phillipe Blot and his famous father Jacky Blot. La Taille aux Loups is in Montlouis sur Loire and the story of the estate is well known to Loire wine lovers. It is the story of how Jacky Blot made a bold and visionary decision to re-invent how Chenin Blanc is made. Jacky recognized that dry Chenin made with exacting care could make a more elegant, sophisticated and modern Chenin Blanc.
Now We Are In Startlingly Beautiful Chinon
We have now travelled about 1/2 hour back westward to Chinon. Here on the banks of Vienne River is the magnificent historic village of Chinon with the Forteresse Royale castle. The village and the Forteresse is one of the most famous sights in the Loire but the countryside around Chinon is glorious. There are hillsides and vineyard slopes with pretty farms and chateaux in the valley bottoms that wind through the region. The opportunity to travel here is fabulous. The scenery and the culture as well as the wines make this a truly wonderful experience.
The Winemaking Philosophy of Matthieu Baudry
Matthieu has taken over the reins of the Domaine Bernard Baudry and he believes passionately in vineyard specific wines. His goal is to let the wine demonstrate the individual characteristics of the soils and slopes on which they are grown. The domaine has several different vineyard locations. They are spread across a variety of slopes and aspects on the hillside near the village of Cravant-les-Coteaux. This is one of the best places to experience great Cabernet Franc from Chinon.
In the photos you can see the map of the vineyard locations as well as the “aquarium” displays of the soils. These soil displays are in the homey winetasting room at the Domaine. All of the Domaine Bernard Baudry red wines are single vineyard expressions. Matthieu is very dedicated to this terroir approach. He keeps his winemaking organic and maintains minimal intervention. This ensures the wines are true to their vineyard location. This approach extends to the use of oak barrels. Matthieu only uses 2-year old or older French barriques so that oak influence is minimized and the fruit can show through.
The Caves of Domaine Bernard Baudry
Like so many places in the Loire Valley, the domaine has the benefit of limestone caves on site at the estate. The caves were originally excavated for the limestone rock to be used in the houses, buildings and the grand Chateaux of the region. The winemakers find themselves with a perfect storage and aging facility for their wines – Cabernet Franc from Chinon. The caves maintain ideal temperature and humidity all year round for the wine to rest and age in barrels. At Domaine Bernard Baudry the cave maintains a temperature of 12 decrees C throughout the year. And it also has fantastic acoustics for recording podcasts!
Matthieu Baudry Also Loves The Tuffeau Limestone of Chinon
It’s not just about the caves. In the podcast you will hear Matthieu describe how the limestone provides the perfect substrate for growing Cabernet Franc. The rock provides good drainage as well as a very distinctive balance that shows through in the freshness and liveliness of these Cabernet Franc from Chinon. Matthieu also believes that the acidity and tannins of wines grown on limestone soils give age-worthiness as well as delicious character to the wines.