Le Clos Guillot, the Baudry family’s grand cru of sorts, is a privileged outpost for any Cabernet Franc grapes lucky enough to be planted here, atop the uppermost slopes of the Vienne riverbanks. A sublayer of dense, yellow limestone and optimal southeast sun exposure ripen away unwelcome vegetal notes. Combined with organic viticulture and a hands-off approach in the cellar, the resulting wine paints a picture-perfect portrait of one of Chinon’s great terroirs.
On a wintry day in January, our group piled into Grégoire and Bénédicte Hubau’s farmhouse for a much-anticipated lunch and tasting. While Grégoire tended to a rack of glistening fat-capped duck breasts roasting over open flames, the rest of us tasted his boldly ripe and energetic 2015 vintage—a perfect pairing, it turns out, for smoky magret de canard. In a region of winemakers-cum-businessmen, Grégoire’s passion and perspective are a treat. When asked about the blend, he will tell you that this single-varietal Fronsac is 50% Mer and 50% Lot. Not your typical response, but typical doesn’t interest him. Regarding the typicity of Fronsac, Grégoire shrugs and says, “I don’t make wine based on an appellation; I make wine based on what the soils tell me.”
The fifty-year-old Grenache vines of the Terrasse du Diable at Les Pallières look eerily more like predatory eagle’s talons than vines, but don’t let this vineyard intimidate you. Sure, it’s named after the devil, but the wine, once tableside, is more of a gentle giant whose only dark side is black fruit and licorice notes. If you’re familiar with the wines of Vieux Télégraphe, you know that grapes in the hands of the Brunier brothers are treated respectfully to coax nuance and finesse. So don’t be afraid. This Gigondas may be serious, but it’s as gentlemanly as any I’ve ever tasted.
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