Francois Chidaine

"Montlouis is an appellation of 400 hectares located directly across the river from Vouvray. In fact, until it was granted AOC status in 1937, Montlouis wines were produced 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 soils makes the wines a bit 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.

François Chidaine worked alongside his father Yves for many years, and today he devoutly manages an estate blessed with vines between 40 and 80 years old. He works his vineyards biodynamically, but does not want any mention of biodynamic viticulture on his bottles even though the estate has been Demeter certified since 2003. For Francois, it is about the work not the notoriety. He is a true champion of the Chenin Blanc grape and touts its ability to produce vibrant wines that age gracefully. Francois is happiest on his tractor or with his hands in the dirt, but being among his barrels is a close second.

Two sparkling wines serve as an excellent introduction to Chidaine's various expressions of Chenin: a Méthode Traditionnelle made with grapes from younger vines in Montlouis that spend 12 months on the lees, as well as a Petillant made from Vouvrary vines that aged 36 months sur lie. Below, our friend and long-time Chidaine fan Peter Liem beatifully outlines the Chidaine lineup wine-by-wine:

Montlouis Les Bournais - Les Bournais is a newly planted site overlooking the Loire river. It had been abandoned for some time, but Chidaine believes that this is one of the very best sites in Montlouis, and planted vines here in 1999. Unlike most of Montlouis, which is on clay and silex, or flint, Bournais lies on clay and limestone, and the name Bournais refers to the particular type of limestone found here. Chidaine's goal is to vinify this dry, barring the occasional aberration such as 2005, and the result is a powerful, full-bodied wine, probably the closest to Vouvray in profile of all Chidaine's Montlouis wines.

Montlouis Clos du Breuil - Chidaine's holdings here include several plots spread over 3.5 hectares, each varying slightly on a typical Montlouis theme of clay and silex over chalk. The vines average about 40 years of age, although the oldest ones are 80 years old, and this is always made as a dry wine (normally 2-4 g/l of sugar). It's racy and extremely minerally, one of the classiest dry chenins of the area.

Montlouis Les Choisilles - Les Choisilles is a cuvée, usually blended from old vines in the vineyards of Les Epinais, La Taille aux Loups and Clos au Renard. It's named after a type of black flint called (you guessed it) choisille. Les Choisilles is a concentrated, focused dry wine that often needs several years to develop.

Les Argiles (Vouvray vines) - This is a blend of various plots surrounding the Clos Baudoin, including L'Espagnole, Le Haut Lieu, La Chatterie, L'Homme and La Reugnières. The clay here is deeper than in the Clos, giving a broad, rich girth to the wine. Chidaine vinifies this dry, usually around 4 g/l of residual sugar.

Clos Baudoin (Vouvray vines) - The 2.7-hectare south-facing Clos Baudoin is one of Vouvray's legendary sites. It had previously belonged to the Prince Poniatowski, but Chidaine had rented the vines since 2002, and has owned the plot outright since the end of 2006. There are vines up to 60 years old here, but unfortunately the entire vineyard will have to be replanted due to a virus in the soil, and Chidaine has already pulled up one hectare of vines. The small amount of wine that he does make from the rest of the Clos Baudoin is sleek and fine, with noticeably more complexity and dimension than his other Vouvrays. It's always a dry wine, as he thinks this vineyard excels at classic Vouvray sec.

Montlouis Clos Habert - The Clos Habert lies adjacent to the Clos du Breuil, on clay and a type of silex called perruches. Part of the vineyard is about 25 years old, with the rest 60-80 years old, and Chidaine uses these vines to make a tendre style of Montlouis with a lovely balance and minerality, usually around 20 g/l of residual sugar.

Montlouis Les Tuffeaux - Les Tuffeaux is a cuvée blended from 30- to 70-year old vines from various vineyards on clay and silex, including the Clos du Volagray and Saint-Martin. Like the Clos Habert, this is intended to be around 15-20 g/l of residual sugar, but it's usually slightly richer and larger in body.

Le Bouchet (Vouvray vines)- Le Bouchet is a north-facing vineyard adjacent to the Clos Baudoin, on the same clay and chalk terroir as its other neighbor, the Clos du Bourg of Domaine Huet (in fact, the Clos du Bourg was supposedly a part of Le Bouchet many years ago). Of Chidaine's two hectares here, half of the vines are young, with the rest 70-80 years old. The resulting wine is a rich, dense and voluptuously textured demi-sec, and Chidaine notes that aromas of white truffle and iodine are typical of Le Bouchet.

As of the 2014 vintage, vines grown in Vouvray but produced and bottled outside of the village can no longer bear the name of the Vouvray appellation. Francois Chidaine and Jacky Blot are two Montlouis producers with vines in Vouvray who are affected buy this ruling, which has stirred up a lot of controversy and emotion within the appellation and beyond its borders. Imagine if a Gevrey grower was banned from producing a wine from Chambolle vines that had been in the family for decades (or centuries for that matter)! Many believe the edict is in response to the growing popularity of Montlouis in Paris and other major European cities. We believe it will backfire; consumers and collectors will rally around these growers, not only because the ruling is unjust, but because Francois Chidaine is making some of the most compelling, terroir-transparent, ageworthy Chenin Blanc in the world.

If you have the pleasure of visiting the newly renovated and expanded domaine, don't miss stopping by La Cave Insolite, the Montlouis wine shop run by Francois' wife and force of nature Manuéla Chidaine. She has a well curated selection of wines from the Loire, both old guard and up and comers, as well as the 'best of the best' of small growers from regions throughout France. The sky is the limit with this dynamic duo."

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Francois Chidaine 'Clos de la Grange' Sauvignon Blanc 2017
"Year in, year out, one of the finest Sauvignon Blanc values coming from the Loire Valley. Rockstar Loire producer Francois Chidaine makes this custom cuvee especially for Polaner Selections. It boasts notes of citrus and stonefruit on the nose, followed by lovely acid and mineral undertones on the
Item Number: 29153
Bottle:$11.95
Case: $143.40
BTL

Francois Chidaine Touraine Rose 2017
"The winemaker François Chidaine, best known for his excellent Montlouis, makes this zesty rosé from the red grapes Grolleau, Pinot Noir and Gamay. It is rather full-bodied with a color almost of maraschino cherries. The wine is bone-dry and floral, with a kind of dark, herbal edge."~Eric Asimov

Francois Chidaine Touraine Rose 2016
The New York Times 20 Rosés Under $20 "The winemaker François Chidaine, best known for his excellent Montlouis, makes this zesty rosé from the red grapes grolleau, pinot noir and gamay. It is rather full-bodied with a color almost of maraschino cherries. The wine is bone-dry and floral, with a kind

Francois Chidaine Touraine Rouge 2015
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91  John Gilman 
John Gilman 91 "François Chidaine is one of the finest winemakers in all of the Loire Valley, with his superbly elegant Montlouis and Vouvray bottlings properly exalted. However, his 2015 Touraine Rouge, which is composed of a blend of Côt, Cabernet Franc and Pineau d’Aunis is outstanding and a

Francois Chidaine Vouvray Pétillant Brut NV
New York Times Spring Wine: Top 20 Under $20 "This sparkling Vouvray is simply superb. It’s made entirely of chenin blanc and wears its chenin personality of honey, lemon, flowers and yeast, with all the finesse of a good Champagne. The French bureaucracy is making it difficult for producers in

Francois Chidaine Touraine Rouge 2014
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90  John Gilman 
John Gilman 90 "The 2014 Touraine Rouge from François Chidaine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 35% Côt and 15% Pineau d’Aunis, with all of the vineyards farmed under biodynamics and the grapes harvested solely by hand. The 2014 vintage has produced a nicely ripe wine, coming in at 12.5 percent

Francois Chidaine Montlouis 'Clos Breuil' Sec 2014
94  John Gilman 
John Gilman 94+ "François Chidaine’s Clos de Breuil bottling is always a bit exotic in a lineup of other Montlouis cuvées, as this vineyard’s flint soils (like Pouilly-Fumé) give the wine a very unique personality. The 2014 is another absolutely stellar wine, delivering a complex and vibrant nose

Francois Chidaine Montlouis 'Les Choisilles' 2014
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95  John Gilman 
John Gilman 95+ "The 2014 les Choisilles from François Chidaine is a Sec bottling, though this no longer appears on the front label, but is incorporated into a lovely graph of the various domaine bottlings and where they fall on the residual sweetness scale on the back label. The wine is

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Les Tuffeaux 2008
91  Wine Advocate 
Wine Advocate 91 " There is I think no place on earth outside of the Loire where you can enjoy this kind of mind-boggling wine value. Chidaine's (in all but name) demi-sec 2008 Montlouis Les Tuffeaux is redolent of almond extract, white peach, and quince, subtle peach kernel as well as zesty,

Francois Chidaine Clos Baudoin 2007
93  Wine Spectator 
Wine Spectator 93"This is loaded with ginger, warm brioche, white peach, chamomile flower, honeysuckle and quinine notes that all ripple through the long, concentrated finish. Ripe, but steely and dry. A beauty. Should age nicely. Drink now through 2017. 475 cases made. "

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Les Tuffeaux 2006
"Only a couple of years ago, Francois Chidaine was only considered to be one of the wine-makers to watch in the Loire. This assessment was based on his excellent vineyard holdings in Montlouis, an appellation on the rise, and his commitment to biodynamic farming and non-intervention wine-making

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Les Tuffeaux 2005
94  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 94 "Assembled from numerous parcels and only discretely sweet (even if surprisingly high in residual sugar), the Chidaine 2005 Montlouis Les Tuffeaux is a marvel and the most youthfully expressive wine in Chidaines current collection. With an ethereal aroma that alone is worth the