If you ever visit Bernard Baudry and his son Matthieu in Chinon, you will notice some very useful tools around their cellar and winery that help you to better understand their six or so distinct terroirs. One is a cross-section map of the landscape that shows the elevation and soil changes of their plots as you move away from the Vienne river. Another is a series of terrariums, side by side, that contain soil samples from each of these terroirs. Looking at the map first, you will notice that Le Clos Guillot is their highest plot, located right outside the town of Chinon. Turning to the glass containers, you’ll see the striking color of the yellow limestone in Le Clos Guillot. It begins to make sense why this cuvée is markedly distinct from the others. Even though all of the wines hail from Chinon, the soil, elevation, and exposition all combine to make Le Clos Guillot their cuvée with the most finesse. The 2015 will be tightly coiled and somewhat tannic early in its life, but it is nevertheless lean and lithe—a triumph in the face of a very hot year. Enjoy this bottle over a few nights if you can and follow how the complex flavors of dark berries and graphite open up and become more delicate. This will be a study, in miniature, in how well this wine will evolve over the next five to fifteen years.
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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