Bernard Baudry Chinon Le Clos Guillot 2009
After a two-week hiatus, during which I made a diversion to Pessac-Léognan for the 2010 Blanc from Château Brown, and then back to the Loire for the 2006 Anjou Blanc Le Haut de la Garde from Château Pierre-Bise, this week I am firmly back on track with my unofficial Chinon theme. Through various wines – mostly from Bernard Baudry and Philippe Alliet, and mostly from the 2009 vintage, so far at least – I have been exploring the limestone slopes that run eastwards out of the town of Chinon, roughly parallel to the Vienne, the river around which the vineyards of Chinon cluster.
My explorations of this limestone slope has so far illustrated the fine structure and definition that these limestone slopes give to the wines. As I have already written on this when describing previous wines, I though it would be appropriate to provide some illustration as to the geology of the region. This diagram is typical of the geological diagrams I will be adding to my Bordeaux guide once I finish the introductory pages and get to the individual appellations, and also to my new Loire guide which will be rolled out during 2014.
I don’t mind admitting that I used to find these cross-sectional geological diagrams rather confusing. After all, how can one cross-section represent a whole region, or a whole appellation? Don’t you need a map for that? These days I am more convinced, as these diagrams indicate why certain rock and soil types exist where they do (and by extension why vines are planted in some areas and not others), and they achieve this in a manner in which a flat, two-dimensional map simply fails. For sure, cross-sections like the one above do not describe an entire appellation, but they do depict features that are more-often-then-not essential in understanding the appellation and its wines.
The cross-section above is drawn from Anché in a direction heading north-east, across the Vienne, towards Cravant-les-Coteaux. The area of interest to us here is on the right-hand side of the diagram, north of the Vienne; above the village of Cravant-les-Coteaux lies a slope which has been exposed by the flow of the Vienne, which will have run at a much higher and deeper level in years gone by (in the eras between ice ages, when sea levels and river levels were much higher). This has exposed areas of yellow chalk (chalk is merely one form of limestone), from the Upper Turonian, laid down approximately 90 million years ago. Speaking with Eric Taunay of Domaine Pascal Lambert just a few weeks ago, he espoused the varied characteristics of the white and yellow chalks of Upper and Lower Turonian, but I am quite certain that I (nor anyone else?) would be able to tell the difference when it came to the wines. When it comes to the wines from the chalky soils, versus those grown on the alluvial and colluvial (sediments washed or slid down from hillsides) soils, or with the sandy, flinty, clay-rich soils to the south of the Vienne (the ‘vines’ on the diagram above indicate the location of the vines planted on these three soil-rock types), here the differences are much clearer. These lesser soils give much more gentle, more approachable wines, for drinking younger.
Anyway, onto this weekend’s wine, which went fairly well with fillet steak, encrusted in herbes de Provence and thrown on the barbecue this weekend, and eaten just as the clouds rolled in and we saw the end of Scotland’s summer (probably). The 2009 Chinon Le Clos Guillot from Bernard Baudry comes from the Clos Guillot vineyard (you could probably guess that much), which is located on the limestone slopes east of Chinon again (that is the connecting theme here, after all). This time, however, the vineyard is much, much closer to Chinon; Le Clos Guillot sits on the outskirts of the town, above the Clos de l’Olive (made famous by Couly-Dutheil) and next to a plot named Bel-Air. The Baudry family planted 3 hectares here in 1993, although some vines were planted on their own roots and have largely succumbed to phylloxera (although some, on a sandy plot within the vineyard, survive), and thus the area committed to the vine is lower now. In the glass the 2009 has a deep, cherry-red hue, with a very reassuring crimson, crushed summer fruit rim. The nose takes an hour or so to open up, but is smoky, with a black berry character to it. There follows a stony, rather reserved texture on the palate, taut and crunchy, but without any greenness; exactly what the Loire should be about in my opinion. It is rather sappy, with a dry structure, and a piquant acidity lending the wine a mouth-watering finish. All in all, a very good wine indeed, and on that seems to me to be true to its limestone origins, such is the substance of the wine. There is certainly no rush to drink here; this has years and years ahead of it in the cellar. 17/20 (10/6/13)