A new wine for us, Les Grillonnières is a tiny parcel of 90 year old vines farmed and bottled by François and Manuéla Chidaine’s eldest child, Alice Chidaine. Following her studies, Alice knocked up some work experience with Dagueneau and Clos Rougeard as well as old-vine Chenin specialist Chris Alheit (in South Africa) before returning home in time for the 2016 vintage. Since 2015, Alice has been cutting her vigneronne teeth on the classic flint-clay of this Montlouis parcel. Her first two wines were dry, but in 2017 Alice made the decision to harvest at the end of September, when the grape’s beautiful acidity was matched with a high level of sugar concentration. The wine finished with 36.7 g/L. The winemaking barely differs from her father and judging by the quality of this wine over the first three vintages the apple has not fallen far from the tree. The label bears Alice’s and her father’s name.
“It has an intense and smoky nose, showing a little dried-fruit character, with desiccated apple and confit pear, with a perfumed, fragrant and chalky style. It has a very svelte start, one which quickly reveals the fruit, together with a little praline and caramelised concentration here, along with a fine seam of minerals underneath, and a soft acidity. A riper style, with a nice grip, and a substantial, broad finish. Long and undeniably full of potential.” 92-94 points, Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com
Today we are able to offer the full range of Montlouis and Vouvray cuvées that we regularly ship from this legendary grower, plus a little extra. As Chris Kissack’s notes below make clear, 2017 is an exceptional vintage from François Chidaine. The wines are deep, textural and wonderfully poised. And we have close to normal quantities which is something we haven’t been able to say for a number of years! Although that’s not to suggest that the Domaine didn’t have some pretty scary moments in 2017. For a start, and by bizarre coincidence, Montlouis was again hit by frost on exactly the same spring day that wiped out most of Chidaine’s crop in 2016. This time however, they were prepared – Chidaine and a group of Montlouis growers hired eight small helicopters (not as expensive as it sounds by the way) to hover 20 metres over the vineyards at early morning, inverting the cold air with their blades. This, and a large number of burning straw bales managed to stave off the worst of the frost damage. All up the Domaine lost 20% of their potential yield and count themselves lucky.
After this, the season went relatively smoothly and harvest lasted three weeks, enabling a range of styles to be produced. While the spotlight unexpectedly falls on the dry wines, this year the duo of off-dry (or ‘tendre’ as Chidaine calls them) are off the charts wonderful. Overall, whether dry or sweet, these are some of the most seductive, fascinating and deliciously pure whites we taste each year. Included in the offer is also a wonderful Moelleux made by François and Manuéla Chidaine’s eldest child, Alice Chidaine. Following her studies, Alice worked with Dagueneau and Clos Rougeard (not a bad grounding!), as well as old-vine Chenin specialist Chris Alheit (in South Africa), before returning home in time for the 2016 vintage. Since 2015, Alice has been cutting her vigneronne’s teeth on the classic flint-clay of Montlouis, on an ancient (90+ year old) vine parcel called Les Grillonnières. Her first two wines were dry, yet in 2017 Alice made the decision to harvest at the end of September, when her grapes’ beautiful acidity was matched with a high level of sugar concentration. The apple, as they say, never falls far from the tree.
Note: We have relied on Chris Kissack’s notes as they are excellent and align very closely to our own tastings of each wine.