A Visit to Domaine Bernard Baudry, October 2020

The harvest in Chinon in 2020 started early, and finished early. This was good for the vignerons, who were able to pick top-quality super-clean fruit under mostly warm and sunny skies, the later rains only bothering one or two hardy souls who were still picking when October came. It was also to my advantage, as although I landed in the Loire Valley too late to see anything other than the last few bunches being picked on the more tardif terroirs of the Chinon appellation (typically those on the left bank of the Vienne which tend to be more north-facing), it did mean some vignerons who I would not usually bother at this time of year – because harvest is so busy – were receptive to a visit. And a tasting.

Bernard Baudry

Not having been able to travel to France earlier in the year (something to do with a virus, I heard, but don’t take my word for it), I had missed making some of my regular annual Chinon visits. So naturally I called in on Jérôme Billard at Domaine de la Noblaie to check out his quite brilliant 2018s. Next on my list was Matthieu Baudry, who was ready and waiting, pipette in hand, when I pulled into the courtyard in front of the cellars in Cravant-les-Coteaux. Well, in truth he was in the office, probably doing some paperwork, but the ready-with-pipette line sounds better, doesn’t it?

The Wines

Matthieu and I first chewed the cud over the 2020 vintage – “un année excessive” in his words – but the juice was still bubbling and fizzing in the vats, so my focus for tasting was the 2019 and 2018 vintages, the wines in some cases still resting in cuve or barrel, while in others they were already in bottle. I kicked off with the 2019 vintage, in which I tasted pretty much the entire portfolio, from the sandy-soiled Les Granges up to La Croix Boissée, as well as the little-known Grolleau Franc de Pied and the two white cuvées. I think that’s everything except the rosé.

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