just to the east of the village of Cravant-les-Coteaux
(14 August 2008)
Matthieu, Bernard’s son, studied in the Mâconnais and then in Bordeaux before undertaking a year’s work experience in Tasmania and California. Matthieu then joined Bernard in running the family domaine in 2000. They now have 30 hectares of vines with parcels on all three of Chinon’s soils – sand, gravel and the clay-limestone coteaux. All planted with Cabernet Franc apart from a small parcel on the coteaux with Chenin Blanc.
Domaine Bernard Baudry is among my top five producers in Chinon.
Part of our tasting was in the new cellar built in 2005. We started with the delicate, peachy and precise Chinon Rosé 2007. Grapes are quickly pressed with only 30 minutes maceration. Production is tiny. Next the Les Granges 2007, the easy drinking cuvée, which sees no wood – instead being fermented and aged in concrete. Soft, round, touch of green pepper, some length – all in all a success for 2007. Les Granges is made from vines on sand and gravel soils, while the next wine, the Domaine, comes from 60% gravel vineyards and 40% on the coteaux. As you would expect the Domaine 2007 is richer and fuller than Les Granges with notes of damson.
We tasted four unfinished 2007. The Clos Guillot from a 4 ha plot (3 in production) on Chinon’s coteau – near the Chêne Vert vineyard and above Le Clos de l’Olive. The particularly promising Les Grezeaux from gravel over clay vineyards at the base of the Coteau de Sonnay and right in front of Bernard’s house. We were lucky to be able to try the cuvée from the small parcel (30 ares) of ungrafted vines in the Clos Guillot. “The vines were planted in 1994,” Matthieu explained. “Unfortunately two thirds of them have now been eaten by phylloxera, which adores clay. We only made three barriques in 2007.” A pity as the wine has a lovely vivacity and finesse with raspberry and cherry flavours. The rich, concentrated and very fine Croix Boisée, which spends a year in barriques and then a further seven months in wooden vats, finished off this very impressive range of 2007s.
We then looked at three finished wines from 2006. The rich and powerfully fruited Domaine 2006 (€7.85 – price to public at the cellar door) – Bernard commented favourably on its freshness. Clos Guillot 2006 (€11) – juicy but currently angular fruit with good length. The rather closed La Croix Boisée has good concentration, structure and mineral character. All three of these wines, especially Guillot and Croix Boisée, will benefit from further time in bottle.
There was just time to taste the Chinon Blanc 2007 – rich with a hint of honey and very long. Fermented very slowly in a mix of 300 and 400 litre barrels. “It lacks acidity,” said Bernard. “I prefer not to have a malolactic fermentation. Some of the Chenin is picked when it is still green to give freshness, the rest when they are golden.”
Clutching our bottle of 2003 La Croix Boisée that Bernard very kindly gave us, we headed back to Chinon and our last appointment of the day with Pierre and Bertrand Couly.
Domaine Bernard Baudry, 9 Coteau de Sonnay,