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|95-96+ Pts David Schildknecht - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
95-96+ Pts David Schildknecht - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
"From several small pickings of botrytized fruit that filled five demi-muids, Chidaine will assemble (as he infrequently does) a 2009 Montlouis Les Lys that is a distilled essence of billowing and liquefied floral perfume - prominently lily and linden (tilleul) - along with candied grapefruit rind, glazed pineapple, and quince preserves. Silken in texture and seamlessly long, this is ethereal rather than (as is more typical for moelleux Chenin of the vintage) confectionary and preserves a marvelous - given its ripeness and vintage, almost miraculous - sense of refreshment. This extraordinary elixir promises to be one of the high points of its vintage and to merit following for at least a quarter century."
"A still youthfully energetic Francois Chidaine - for more about whose methodology and recent history see my report in issue 172 - has continued to hone his long-ago manifest talents, even as (together with his cousin Nicolas) he oversees two estates (one formerly that of Prince Poniatowski in Vouvray, which accounts for 30% of total production). Based on their performance in cask, his 2009s - which weren't harvested much earlier than his 2008s - surpass those of his Vouvray and Montlouis neighbors (many of whom bottled their wines in spring) for refreshment, clarity, precision, and minerality, even though alcohol levels center around a for these appellations relatively high 13.5-14%. As for Chidaine's 2008s, while their acidity and minerality might strike some tasters as too prominent, I don't think Chidaine hyperbolizes when he calls the vintage 'magic.' You have to look to the historical collections of regional leaders Foreau and Huet to find comparable consistently high quality, making it clear that Chidaine is one of the world's finest craftsmen in the medium of white wine, not to mention a continuing source of amazing value. (I hope to be able to catch up with and report on his 2007s at some point, too, but there was simply no time to get to that when I visited him, nor since.) All of the 2009s in this report were tasted, unassembled, from a range of (nearly all 620-liter) barrels of various ages. There will as usual be an off-dry Les Tuffeaux bottling from barrels not selected for final inclusion in any site-specific cuvees - reflecting 6 or 7 parcels in all - but by its nature non-existent until after the late summer assemblage. It will however include the fruit of young vines from the flint-chalk Les Epinais that ascended to 14.7% alcohol even with high residual sugar, and whose caramelized, honeyed aura is more vintage-typical than most of the 2009 lots here. Incidentally, Chidaine intimated that he might re-instate the word 'sec' on the labels of his dry wines. I continue to consider it a mistake for him and so many of his follow-growers in Montlouis and Vouvray to rely solely on winery-internal conventions as to what tastes dry and what sweet. Chidaine now also bottles and exports to the U.S. inexpensive Touraine Sauvignon and red blends rendered from contract fruit." (08/10)
"Chenin Blanc, certified biodynamic. Minerally, with lively acidity and notes of honeysuckle and fruit confits. A multi-site assemblage, made only in selected vintages. The grapes are hand harvested and farmed organically. Always vinified sec in stainless steel using indiginous yeasts. Aging uses a combination of tank and used demi-muids." - Importer
"Montlouis is an appellation of 400 hectares located directly across the river from Vouvray. (Until it was granted AOC status in 1937, Montlouis wines were under the Vouvray appellation.) The soils in both places are quite similar: sandy clay on a base of tuffeau. Some say that a slightly higher percentage of sand and pebbles in the Montlouis soil makes the wines somewhat leaner than the wines of Vouvray. For us, this trait adds to the charm of Montlouis's sec wines, giving them a lively crispness on the palate and outstanding minerality."
"Francois Chidaine has worked alongside his father Yves for many years, in two independent estates. He works his vines biodynamically, but does not want any mention of biodynamic viticulture on his bottles even though the estate has been certified since 2003. He champions the Chenin Blanc grape and its ability to produce vibrant wines that age gracefully."
"Chidaine's estate is divided into 8 distinct plots, with much of the vineyards between 40 and 80 years old. Clos de Breuil is Chidaine's sec, or dry, cuvee of Montlouis, while Clos Habert and Tuffeaux are demi-sec, or off-dry cuvees. A stunning Methode Traditionnelle, or petillant, is made with grapes from younger vines." - Importer