What do you get when you combine a brilliant biodynamic winemaker and the only vineyard in the Loire Valley to ever be called Grand Cru?
Some of the best Chenin Blanc we've tasted all year.
But the story gets more interesting when you find out how it all came to be. Here's the deal...
The Poniatowski family has owed the Clos Baudoin in Vouvray for several generations, but with current owner Prince Poniatowski well into his eighties, retirement was calling.
The Prince had originally decided to offer his property to a neighbor with a large bottling business, but some last minute negotiations resulted in a much different, and unprecedented, arrangement:
Poniatowski would let the famed Francois Chidaine from the rival town of Montlouis (see sidebar) assume vineyard and winemaking management at Clos Baudoin.
Perhaps the sidebar doesn't do justice to the rivalry between Vouvray and Montlouis, so here's a bit of New York perspective for you: A guy in Montlouis making wine in Vouvray is about the same as defection from the center field at Fenway to a leadoff spot in pinstripes.
The 3-way deal (it's not clear that Chidaine and Poniatowski ever spoke directly in negotiations) allows the Prince to step aside gracefully while opening the door for Chidaine to work his magic with world-class terroir.
We could write more, but the importer who brokered the deal sums it up best: "the cafes of Vouvray are still quietly rumbling over the idea that a winemaker from Montlouis is now tending land in Vouvray ... but the rumble will become a roar when the producers of Vouvray realize that a Montlouisien is now making the finest wines of Vouvray."
2004 Chidaine Vouvray "Clos Baudoin Les Argiles"
"A stunning demi-sec. The nose has the full Chenin symphony going of grilled almonds, honey, minerals and stone fruits, while super-precise palate has focused acidity, perfectly judged sweetness and wonderful length and delineation."
2004 Chidaine Vouvray "Le Clos Baudoin" "A glorious dry wine with fantastic ageing potential. Brilliant detail and purity, incredible acidity, steely minerality, and overall sharp character. Little, if any noticeable residual sugar. More difficult and complex than the Argiles, its improvement with a healthy decant reveals hints of what a few years of bottle age will do."
Where In The World?
Montlouis and Vouvray are two of several famous wine producing regions in the Loire Valley "department" of Indre-et-Loire.
Vouvray, a town of right-wing politics, is on the north bank of the Loire, while the poorer (some might say communist) town of Montlouis sits on the south bank.
Often viewed as the "little brother" of the 2000+ hectare Vouvray, Montlouis contains only 400 hectares and is located directly across the river from Vouvray.
Gifted with vineyard sites with the best exposure, Vouvray has always been considered King of the region.
And it's no wonder that Montlouis have had a generations-long chip on their shoulder: until it was granted AOC status in 1937, wines made in Montlouis were labeled Vouvray.
One of our friends at the importer told us that "the political chasm between the villages is wider than the Loire - so much so, that in the history of the region, no native Montlouis producer has ever acquired, or come to control and farm, vineyards in Vouvray."