Domaine Francois Chidaine

François Chidaine is one of the France’s most exciting white wine makers. It’s not hype – the wines are terrific and the winemaking approach is impeccable.

Chidaine is the widely acknowledged master of Montlouis and had recently purchased prime land in Vouvray – including the legendary Clos Baudoin vineyard.

 

Great vineyards managed biodynamically, ultra low yields and ‘hands off’ élevage are the order of the day here. Chidaine has achieved for Chenin what Didier Dagueneau achieved with Sauvignon: wines of staggering texture and complexity.

 

Chidaine has caused a mini revolution in Montlouis and these wines are some of the finest value and authentic wines on the market.

 

Montlouis is Vouvray’s little brother, sitting directly across the Loire River. The analogy of siblings is a good one as the rivalry between these two villages is intense. However, as Montlouis is much smaller in size than Vouvray, most of the wine is consumed in France.

Although he made it’s reputation with Chenin Blanc, Chidaine makes a remarkable Sauvignon blanc that comes principally from the Domaine’s vines in Chissay-en-Touraine and Saint-Julien-de-Chédon, less than 7 miles from Montlouis.

 

The crop from these two vineyards are complemented by other contracted fruit but Francois Chidaine is keen to point out that even those sites, not under his ownership, are managed by his team and entirely hand-harvested. On top of this, Chidaine pays well above the market average, over compensating his growers for their support to ensure high quality and lower yields.

 

In terms of the winemaking, the fruit is whole bunch pressed into stainless steel and fermented with a high degree of solids, and the wine is then matured on its lees until bottling. This wine combines a mouthful of fleshy ripe fruit with bracing freshness and plenty of complexity from wild fermentation and lees aging.

 

Aromatically this has a very ripe Sauvignon character, the nose bursting with yellow peach and golden pear, with a lightly smoky edge to it. The palate is very rich and sweetly textured, with a soft, plush substance, backed by a very fine and precise acidity. There is even a little dried, confit fruit character to it.

This is very impressive, and very polished, clean wine.