As always, this sublime bottling is drawn from a series of clay-rich Vouvray sites that surround the Clos Baudoin. Set away from the river, these sites are mostly populated by 40 year old bush vines, grown on deep, chalky clay over a subsoil of limestone. The fruit is hand harvested with multiple passes through the vineyards and the wine spends 11 months on fine lees. Fermentation occurs with indigenous yeasts and ageing is on lees in wooden barrels (demi-muids) of 600-litre capacity for around eleven months (in total). This wine is 100% Vouvray but is not permitted to be labelled as such because it is fermented and aged across the river in Montlouis. The AOC law (in a section that has historically been ignored) states that if a wine is to be labelled Vouvray, it must be matured within the boundaries of Vouvray itself. For some reason the French authorities have now started cracking down on this (when in the past it was typically ignored) and so Chidaine, whose cellars are in nearby Montlouis, is forced to drop the use of the Vouvray AOC from his labels. No matter, the vineyard name, the region (even though no longer listed on the label) and the quality of the wine remains! - Importer Note
François Chidaine is one of the France's most exciting white wine makers. Great vineyards managed biodynamically, ultra low yields and 'hands off' élevage are the order of the day here. It gives you an idea of Chidaine's standing in the Loire that when Benjamin Dagueneau wanted to gain experience as a younger man, he went to work with Chidaine. As a collective, his wines offer a remarkably pure and vivid expression of their respective terroirs.
In terms of the regions, Montlouis is Vouvray's little brother, sitting directly across the Loire river in France's North. The analogy of siblings is a good one as the rivalry between these two regions is intense. However, as Montlouis is much smaller in size, 400 hectares as opposed to 1800 for Vouvray, and as most of the wine is consumed in France, Montlouis is less well known. - Importer Note.
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