Domaine François Chidaine

Domaine François Chidaine

Electric Dreams: Sublime Quality from The Mount Olympus of Chenin Blanc

Let’s cut to the chase. This is Chenin Blanc at its zenith, tasting nothing like the stereotype of the grape variety, but rather acting as a conduit through which the vineyards can express themselves. These are wines brimming with energy, texture and great intensity of flavour; the kind of wines that unequivocally transport you to the patch of dirt from where they were grown. As a collective, the wines from Chidaine offer a remarkably pure and vivid expression of their respective terroirs.

When it comes from the best terroirs and the finest growers, Chenin Blanc sits comfortably alongside the very finest German Rieslings and white Burgundies. Each year, François Chidaine reminds us of this reality: his wines are a damn near perfect marriage of vintage and vineyard.

François Chidaine is one of France’s most revered white wine makers. It’s not hype—the wines are terrific, and the winemaking approach is impeccable. Great vineyards managed biodynamically, ultra-low yields and hands-off élevage are the order of the day here. Chidaine has achieved with Chenin what Didier Dagueneau achieved with Sauvignon: wines of staggering texture and complexity. It might provide an idea of Chidaine’s standing in the Loire, that when Benjamin Dagueneau wanted to gain experience as a younger man, he went to work with Chidaine.

Montlouis is Vouvray’s little brother, sitting directly across the Loire River in France’s north. The analogy of siblings is a good one as the rivalry between these two regions is intense. However, as Montlouis is much smaller in size (400 hectares as opposed to 1800 for Vouvray) and considering most of the wine is consumed in France, Montlouis is less well-known. François Chidaine is quickly changing this. He has driven a renaissance in Montlouis, produced Vouvray to challenge that region’s very best, and has also resuscitated one of the latter region’s most hallowed vineyards, the Clos Baudoin, which is now a Chidaine monopole. One of the remarkable aspects of Chidaine is that, despite his success, his prices remain remarkably fair. These are some of the finest value, not to mention authentic, wines of terroir on the market.

In the cellar, in simple terms, the practices include whole-bunch pressing, slow, natural fermentation and 12 months aging on lees in neutral 600-litre casks. This informs the style but ultimately, it’s the sites themselves and the exceptional, biodynamic vineyard management that drive the quality.

Region

Loire Valley, France

Appellation

Touraine

François & Alice Chidaine

What They Are Saying

“The Pope of Montlouis and Vouvray—just a sublimely great producer. He knows his vineyards better than anyone and he styles his cuvées according to the contours of each vineyard. The wines are pure and clean, yet profoundly expressive. And they are still phenomenal value.” Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste

“François Chidaine is one of my favorite winemakers in the world. There are times when I can imagine drinking only his wines for the rest of my life.” Peter Liem, peterliem.com

“You have to look to the historical collections of regional leaders Foreau and Huet to find comparable consistently high quality, making it clear that Chidaine is one of the world's finest craftsmen in the medium of white wine, not to mention a continuing source of amazing value.” David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate

Domaine François Chidaine

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