On a recent visit to Domaine Bernard Baudry I toured the vineyards with Matthieu Baudry, riding shotgun in his camion, a lumbering and yet agile hulk painted a battleship grey. We drove out across the appellation, to Les Grézeaux, the original Baudry vineyard that sits just across the road, then to Les Granges, a low sandy mound barely rising above the plain of the Vienne and which is naturally prone to flooding. Indeed, it was often said Bernard would prune these vines from his rowing boat if he had to. Then we headed out past Bernard’s world-famous vegetable garden and up to La Croix Boissée, perhaps the appellation’s most coveted lieu-dit, on a steep south-facing slope above the town of Cravant-les-Coteaux. There wasn’t time to check out Le Clos Guillot (“we will do that when you come next time”, Matthieu reassured me – and he was true to his word) but there was, of course, time for a tasting at the domaine before we parted company.
Matthieu has been working on the domaine for many years now, having first studied and worked in France and abroad, returning here in 2000. At this time he would have been a very young man, and very much under his father’s wing. This would explain why, on my inaugural visit to the domaine, which was about the same time, Matthieu was nowhere to be seen, and it was Bernard who greeted me, and showed me around the domaine. My whirlwind tour of the vineyards caused me to reflect on that first visit.
My First Visit
It was sometime around the turn of the century that I had first called in on Bernard Baudry. Thinking back, I am not sure how I arranged it; I don’t recall making the appointment myself but, to be fair, it was a long time ago and my memory has faded. It is possible that I made it through a merchant friend, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I may simply have turned up, tourist-like, eager and full of hope. This was many years before I dreamed of attending the Salon des Vins de Loire, or before I began making dedicated tasting trips to the Loire Valley. I was here on holiday, and simply dropped in. It’s not something I do any more; these days I always make an appointment.