Domaine Bernard Baudry

Benchmark Cabernet Franc from one of the Leading Domaines of Chinon

Bernard Baudry is one of the stars of Chinon. A graduate of the Lycée de Beaune, Baudry created his 30-hectare estate from family-owned parcels and additionally purchased land. He quickly rose to prominence in the ’80s for his intense and textured Chinon. Today he is considered one of the great pioneers of Chinon’s modern era. Son Matthieu joined his father in 2000 and continues to find new ways to progress his family’s wine to new heights of silky, perfumed elegance and depth. Sure, the father’s wines and choice of vineyards lit the torch—yet the son’s progressive, outward-looking philosophy in the vineyard and cellar has taken things to a new level.

These are complex, seductively textured wines that nonetheless retain the refreshing, spicy, crunchy nuances and powdery tannins that speak so loudly of Chinon. From low-yielding, organically managed vines grown on poor limestone slopes, Cabernet Franc can capture subtle shifts in terroir in an almost Burgundian manner. Baudry is arguably the leading Chinon producer in this respect, in that he makes so many fine, terroir-specific wines. Despite the current challenges posed by the changing climate, thanks to intense, artisanal farming here, this grower’s vines are revelling in sunny benevolence. “I don’t have to drop as much fruit these days,” opines Baudry, “We’ve almost forgotten about those Cabernet Franc green pepper flavours. The textbooks might need to be updated.”

“While they are sometimes labelled traditionalists, I find them to be more naturalists. Everything here is organic, harvested by hand and bottled without fining or filtration.” Joel B. Payne, Vinous

Les Granges is a lighter-bodied wine made for early drinking from grapes grown on gravel and sand, which makes for a lip-smacking bright and lively wine. Le Domaine hails from Baudry’s high-sited vines, from a plateau above Chinon’s première côte: the lion’s share of the fruit comes from old vines (around 35 years old on average), planted on sandy, limestone-rich soils, while 20-30% is drawn from slightly younger vines on gravelly soils. Les Grézeaux is drawn from the Estate’s oldest vines, aged between 40 and 60 years, planted on a gravelly terroir over limestone and clay on the Sonnay plateau above Cravant (in front of the Baudry cellar).

In recent vintages, the quality of this producer’s two top cuvées, cropped from the limestone slopes rising from the Vienne River, has moved from benchmark into the game-changing territory. La Croix Boisée, hails from a parcel of 30- to 50-year-old vines on very chalky, white limestone soils above Baudry’s cellars in Cravant-les-Côteaux. Here, the south-facing aspect, altitude and soil produce Chinon’s longest-living and most elegant wines. Finally, Clos Guillot is another single vineyard situated on a steep, southeast-facing slope in Chinon with soils of clay, chalk and yellow limestone (known locally as tuffeau). Matthieu Baudry describes Le Clos Guillot as a “very pure expression of Chinon.” These are totally unique wines of place, and some of the most interesting reds we import.

There are now two excellent whites in the range. Chinon Blanc is a rare bird at the best of times; Chenin Blanc accounts for only 2% of the total Chinon appellation. Baudry farms under two hectares, and there’s good reason La Revue du Vin de France has labelled the wines “the model of great Chinon Blanc.” In most cases, Chinon’s white grapes have been shunted to the less favourable sites. At this address, all the whites are drawn from the sirloin cut of Chinon’s finest limestone terroirs.

The Range

Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé 2022
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Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé 2022

Organic. 100% Cabernet Franc. Baudry’s irresistible rosé was traditionally drawn from a parcel of vines rooted in the gravel terroir of Grézeaux, originally planted by Matthieu’s father some 30 years ago. More recently, to counter the warmer seasons, Baudry has introduced a new vineyard: Les Balais. It sits on clay and flint (silex) soils sited high on the Chinon coteau, above his iconic Croix Boissée vineyard. The fruit from the flinty soils of this site now contributes at least 70% of the blend and brings incisive cut and minerality to the riper fruit from the valley floor. As always, the grapes are picked by hand and made by the pressurage method, whereby the wine’s delicate colour comes from minimal skin contact in the press. The wine fermented with indigenous yeasts—two-thirds in Italian-made concrete tanks and the remainder in stainless steel. It was left on lees with no sulphur added before bottling. If we’re splitting hairs, it’s a little more generous than last year’s wine, yet, as always, it’s a layered, gently creamy and delicately complex rosé with a burst of summer berry and sweet citrus fruit sculpted by stony freshness. Unique and delicious.

“The nose is all strawberry, peach leaf and fresh cherry. The palate is quite beautiful, fresh and delicate, with creamed summer fruits and a light-footed dance across the palate. With a gentle grip and good acidity for the vintage, this is quite delicious.”
92 points, Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor
“Baudry’s 2022 Le Rosé is full, textural and satisfying. Its pretty salmon pink hue belies its depth and elegance. While there are attractive red fruit aromas and a note of violets, this is a rosé that relies on fruity flavors for its personality. The balanced, dry and fresh finish has a savory twist adding interest.”
92 points, Rebecca Gibb MW
Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé 2022
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Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Domaine 2021
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Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Domaine 2021

Organic. 100% Cabernet Franc. The lion’s share of this bottling is drawn from Baudry’s high-sited vines, which lie in Saint Louans on a plateau above Chinon’s première côte. The principal vineyard here is evocatively named Cimetière aux Chiens, which translates as ‘dog cemetery’ (probably a reference to the limestone that litters the soil here). To this fruit source, Baudry blends in roughly 20% from vines rooted in the gravelly soils of Cravant-les-Côteaux. Fermented with wild yeasts in traditional cement vats, Le Domaine ages in both concrete and old casks for 15 months. The wine is bottled unfiltered, two springs after harvest. This is a considerably longer aging cycle than in the past. Baudry believes this drawn-out maturation brings more mineral limestone character to his wine, and it is now more seductive and approachable. Crammed with Rabelaisian charm, this offers the meaty, earthy, ‘sauvage’ nose so typical of this wine, alongside a juicy, silky palate with flavours of roast meat, wet earth, creamy raspberry fruit and a floral lift. With its mouth-puckering tannins and food-friendly acidity, it’s a wine for the table—ideally with hearty, slow cooked meat dishes. It may not be for everyone, but it is the kind of wine that made the region famous—and it is deliciously unique. An old-school 12.2% completes the picture (so you can drink by the tankard). Eat, drink and be merry! 

Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Domaine 2021
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Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Clos Guillot 2020
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Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Clos Guillot 2020

Organic. 100% Cabernet Franc.  The Clos Guillot vineyard is situated on a southeast-facing slope in Chinon with soils of clay, chalk and yellow limestone (known locally as tuffeau). Baudry’s vines here—situated very close to Le Chêne Vert, the vineyard made famous by Charles Joguet—were planted between 1993 and 2000. Unusually, this vineyard also includes a small parcel of the domaine’s remaining ungrafted vines which used to go to Baudry’s now retired (and much missed) Franc de Pied cuvée. Today these vines are blended into Le Clos Guillot. Harvesting is by hand and yields never exceed 40 hl/ha. Fermentation takes place in large wooden fermenters with regular pigéage (with the aim of providing gentle extraction of supple tannins). After a maceration of about 20 days, the wine is pressed off and then matured for 12 months in oak barrels that have seen two or three vintages, followed by nine months in cement. Bottled without filtration. Matthieu Baudry describes Le Clos Guillot as a “very pure expression of Chinon.” It’s usually the most ‘Pinot’ Chinon in the range, and, true to form, the 2020 is overflowing with athletic fruit, clarity and poise. The note below captures another top-drawer performance from a great vineyard.

Matthieu Baudry describes Le Clos Guillot as a “very pure expression of Chinon.” It’s usually the most ‘Pinot’ Chinon in the range, and, true to form, the 2020 is overflowing with athletic fruit, clarity and poise. The note below captures another top-drawer performance from a great vineyard.

“Hailing from the limestone-clay slopes on the outskirts of Chinon town, home to other famous vineyards like Clos de l’Olive and Chêne Vert, Le Clos Guillot 2020 offers a cloud of Cabernet Franc fruit with fine refreshing acidity. Savory, silken and seductive, the wine is flooded with a stream of acidity. It is a calm wine with a mass of chalky tannins that coat the palate reassuringly. The finish is long, quiet and scented with dark raspberries and spice.”
91-93 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous
Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Clos Guillot 2020
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Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux 2020
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Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux 2020

100% Cabernet Franc. Les Grézeaux is drawn from the estate’s oldest vines, aged between 40 and 60 years, planted on a gravelly terroir over limestone and clay on the Sonnay plateau above Cravant (in front of the Baudry cellar). Matthieu Baudry notes that it is a parcel that performs best in warm, dry vintages, and so, this is only made in such years (no Grézeaux was made in 2013, for example). Harvesting is by hand and fermentation takes place in cement vats for 15-20 days. It is then matured in cement until bottling two winters post-harvest. Generously flavoured with slow-building tannins buried under the weight of succulent fruit, this palate-staining wine has a depth and concentration—here balanced by bright and crunchy acidity—we rarely see in Cabernet Franc. Baudry notes that the vines in Les Grézeaux love warm vintages, and you can tell; the new vintage is a picture of svelte berry fruit lifted by a rippling sparkle from refreshing tannin and bright acidity.

Generously flavoured with slow-building tannins buried under the weight of succulent fruit, this palate-staining wine has a depth and concentration—here balanced by bright and crunchy acidity—we rarely see in Cabernet Franc. Baudry notes that the vines in Les Grézeaux love warm vintages, and you can tell; the new vintage is a picture of svelte berry fruit lifted by a rippling sparkle from refreshing tannin and bright acidity.

“Off gravel soils at the bottom of the coteaux, the 2020 Les Grézeaux is a fine, fruity wine but it’s much more than that. It’s a delicate style that packs concentration within its light, silky bodied core. The tannins are fine and like licking a stone. It’s good enough to eat.”
91 points, Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous
Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux 2020
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“Bernard Baudry is, here and now, one of the leading domaines of the appellation. Some would say the leading domaine of the appellation. The wines are of exceptionally high quality...” Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor

“While they are sometimes labelled traditionalists, I find them to be more naturalists. Everything here is organic, harvested by hand and bottled without fining or filtration. In any case, theirs is a style that I admire: they make cabernet franc taste as suave and succulent as pinot noir.” Joel B. Payne, Vinous

"The entire wine range displays tender loving care and a light touch: the fruit shows excellent purity." Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous

** Producteur de très grands vins Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France 2022 (The equal highest-rated dDomaine in Chinon)

Country

France

Primary Region

Touraine

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Winemaker: Matthieu Baudry

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