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Bernard Baudry Chinon Blanc La Croix Boissée 2015

Bernard Baudry Chinon Blanc La Croix Boissée 2015

When I first started getting into wine, there was something mystical about every bottle I opened. It was a time of discovery, and novelty. Early tastes of the cru classé wines of Bordeaux and older vintages of Port, not to mention sunshine-in-a-glass Australian Chardonnay and firecracker Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, were all memorable, in one way or another. A few years on (or a few decades in my case) and it is difficult to deny that few bottles these days offer the same sense of wonder which seemed so commonplace as a novice drinker. Increased tasting experience, knowledge and understanding might bring more informed drinking decisions, but it inevitably destroys some of the magic too.

Now and again, though, a bottle comes along which reminds me of that magic. In all honesty I could reel off a list of such wines made by Bernard Baudry, and his son Matthieu Baudry, who turn out some of the very best wines in Chinon, but the 2015 Chinon La Croix Boisée Blanc will take some beating. Having been a fan of the red wines from this very special terroir for some time, I recall my surprise on learning of the existence of the white wine. I had visited Bernard during the summer of 2007 and there was no sign of it; at that time I don’t think I even realised he had white vines planted up on Chinon’s limestone côtes. It was a couple of years later, when I stopped of to taste with father and son at the Salon des Vins de Loire that I first encountered it, in the 2008 vintage.

Bernard Baudry Chinon Blanc La Croix Boissée 2015

La Croix Boissée lies east of Cravant-les-Coteaux, close to Domaine de Bel Air (when I update my Bernard Baudry profile in the next few months, for subscribers, I will add some map references and links). Bernard decided to plant Chenin Blanc vines here, in two parcels of 45 ares (0.45 hectares) each, on the simple rationale that Chenin Blanc and limestone get along well, as seen in many parts of the Loire Valley from Vouvray down to Saumur. The two parcels are on the upper part of the slope, where the soils are richest in limestone, as lower down there is more clay. When I visited earlier this year I asked Matthieu when the vines had been planted, half-expecting him to come up with 2015 (hoping that 2008 I tasted had been the first). “They were planted by Bernard, about twenty years ago”, was his reply. As if to drive the message home, our tasting together later that day ended up with the 2001 La Croix Boissée Blanc, and early vintage (I think the first was 1995). It looks like I was well behind the curve on this one.

The vinification is in 500-litre barrels, including a relatively short élevage, this vintage having been bottled in June 2016. Unusually (to my mind, anyway), Bernard and Matthieu favour allowing the malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity, which Matthieu tells me led to some interesting exchanges between Bernard and Noël Pinguet of Domaine Huet. a staunch opponent of malolactic with Chenin Blanc. Having said that, tasting the wine in its youth, I would have had absolutely no clue this was the case. Sometimes the influence of malolactic is undeniable, but that certainly isn’t the case here. In the glass the 2015 Chinon Blanc La Croix Boissée from Bernard Baudry has an appealing hue, fresh but hinting at a concentration. It has a simply lovely nose, just brimming with ripe fruit, including tangerine, lychee, grapefruit and even a little tropical guava, which I guess is the ripeness of the vintage coming through. It has a beautifully succulent texture at the start, the exotic salad of fruits hinted at on the nose coming in here, but with a gloriously pithy and grippy character adding some real substance and frame to it. It is fresh, bright and loaded with pithy intensity, but with a delightful mix of fruit, freshness and vigour in the finish. A great wine, and one which should develop nicely over the next decade. Happily, I managed to prise a couple more bottles from Matthieu’s hands, so I will be able to check that out for myself. 18/20 (3/10/16)

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