François Chidaine is possibly one of the hottest white wine makers in France. With some of the greatest vineyards in Montlouis and Vouvray now at his disposal, Chidaine is at the height of his powers. Using biodynamic viticulture, ultra-low yields and ‘hands off’ élevage to make wines of staggering texture and complexity. These wines offer earthy complexity, creamy, silky texture. These elegant, fleshy, supple and complex wines are everything you love about Chenin Blanc.
For me, this is the perfect crossover between Loire Sauvignon and the new world. Lots of ripe Sauvignon character; peach and pear. There are more savoury smoky/flint/struck match too. Very much in the Chidaine style the palate is soft, silky and textural. There is a line of acid underneath but you only see it if you’re looking for it. Finishing clean, this is a great wine for drinking.
Can any white wine rival Loire Valley Chenin Blanc for elegance, grace and poise in the cellar? Definitely some Rieslings would give it a run but not much else. Chenin, whether sweet or dry, produces wines with a lovely balance of taut, unrelenting acidity and pillowy soft fruit that sits on top. The best wines, think Savennières, Vouvray and Montlouis, can age for a surprisingly long time (25, 50, 100 years even). Only surprising due to the amazing balance the best producers can find in the wine. Then you get stuck into the stunning sparkling wines that are such great value too and the reds from Cabernet Franc that will make lovers of Burgundy or Bordeaux swoon.
A large region in the Middle Loire that overlaps most of the great and celebrated appellations. It allows for blending from great and lesser sites to make a great wine. Sparkling, white, rose or red are made here. The quality can vary wildly. But look for a great producer who is making Touraine wines. There will be a good reason for it.
Hero to many, weed to many more. Sauvignon Blanc sure does divide people. The pure expression of Sauvignon fruit is a stunning and exuberant array of tropical fruits with ripe herbs and plant material. It excels in the chalk, clay and sand of the Loire as well as the wonderful vineyards in Bordeaux for dry white and Sauternes production where Semillon curbs its outgoing nature.