Francois Chidaine Montlouis Les Tuffeaux 2014
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.
François Chidaine has worked alongside his father Yves for many years, in two independent estates. He works his vines the old-fashioned way, but does not want any mention of organic viticulture on his bottles even though he is certified organic. 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, cuvée of Montlouis, while Clos Habert and Tuffeaux are demi-sec, or off-dry cuvées. A stunning Méthode Traditionnelle, or pétillant, is made with grapes from younger vines.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.