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François Chidaine

Touraine in the Membrane—Great-Value Loire from the ‘Pope of Montlouis’
François Chidaine
The Loire Valley’s Touraine region may be home to some of France’s grandest châteaux, but when it comes to its wines, few growers have shown the same kind of ambition and skill as those 16th-century masons. With notable exceptions, and despite the quality of its soils, the wines from this appellation—from vineyards on the banks of the Loire and its tributary, the Cher, east of Tours—have yet to set the world on fire. But the times they are a-changin’. Last year, we met two young growers whose electric whites from Sauvignon and Chenin and deliciously pure and characterful red wines from Cabernet Franc and the local Pineau d’Aunis and Grolleau are emblematic of the new energy flowing into the region. Still, while waiting for those wines to arrive, it is worth remembering that we already have a Touraine producer on our books—and a world-class one at that.

For some years now, the ‘Pope of Montlouis and Vouvray’ has been expanding his holding upriver, where the price of land remains reasonable, while also replanting with superior mass-selection material. François Chidaine now farms seven hectares of vines rooted in the flint, clay and limestone of the Cher Valley, just east of the Château de Chenonceau. Even at this pourable price point, all the vineyards are managed organically, the fruit hand-harvested, and the wines naturally fermented. These methods remain exceptionally rare for Touraine, as are the quality and texture of the wines.

When Chidaine describes 2022 as “the kind of vintage we dream of making more regularly”, it hits home more than most. Anyone who follows this producer will know that he is not only one of France’s greatest wine growers but, in terms of yields, he is also one of its unluckiest. Fortunately, 2022 has delivered some respite, and the icing on the cake is the outstanding quality. That goes for Chidaine’s deep and racy Montlouis and Vouvray cuvées as much as it does for these great-value bottles from ‘the Garden of France’.

The Wines

Domaine François Chidaine Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Domaine François Chidaine Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2022

François Chidaine is revered for his pristine Chenin Blancs from Montlouis and Vouvray. For a fraction of the price of those wines, here is a touch of Chidaine magic in the form of a Sauvignon cropped from vines in Chissay-en-Touraine and Saint-Julien-de-Chédon. These vineyards lie in the heart of the Touraine appellation, less than 10km upstream from Montlouis, and the viticulture is strictly organic and biodynamic. Alongside his own vineyards, Chidaine now also sources fruit from his grower son-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Bonnigal, in Limeray.

Fermented with a high degree of solids before maturation on lees—a little barrel-aged fruit adds complexity—you'll find engaging zesty citrus character here, along with a delicious touch of white flower and peach skin. As always with Chidaine, you get terroir first and varietal second. The palate is ripe and fleshy, crammed with stone fruits and chalky drive rather than the stereotypical characters we often associate with the variety. One of the keys to the Loire Valley’s outstanding 2022 vintage is the marriage between fleshy fruit texture and mouthwatering freshness. You’ll find all that here, alongside a snaking finish kissed by tangy, salty lemons. We can’t remember a more exciting release under this label.

Domaine François Chidaine Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2022
Domaine François Chidaine Touraine Rosé 2022

Domaine François Chidaine Touraine Rosé 2022

Chidaine’s juicy, full-flavoured dry rosé is predominantly Grolleau (70%), with the remainder Pinot Noir and Gamay. As with the Sauvignon above, the vines are rooted in the flint, clay and limestone soils of the Cher Valley between Tours and Orléans. Chidaine has little interest in copying the pale (or pallid?) Côtes de Provence model, so here the grapes are picked ripe and undergo a fair measure of skin contact before pressing and aging on lees in stainless steel. It’s a fleshy and refreshing rosé with waves of herb-infused red berries underpinned by some earthy-mineral notes from the Grolleau and the subtle textural grip that makes this such a great, food-orientated rose. Another bargain from one of France’s most revered winegrowers.

“Chidaine’s 2022 Rosé is a blend of Grolleau, Pinot Noir and Gamay. Bright and effusive, with tons of aromatic presence, the Rosé is immediately alluring. The interplay of aromatics, bright minerals and layered fruit makes for a delicious and beguiling Rosé that is absolutely delicious.”
90 points, Antonio Galloni, Vinous
Domaine François Chidaine Touraine Rosé 2022

“The Pope of Montlouis and Vouvray—just a sublimely great producer. He knows his vineyards better than anyone and he styles his cuvées according to the contours of each vineyard. The wines are pure and clean, yet profoundly expressive. And they are still phenomenal value.” Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay, The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste



“The whole range displays a high level of purity and silken elegance; oak never interferes with the fruit but adds an extra layer of complexity in terms of flavor and texture.” Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous



“The modern ascendence of Montlouis essentially wouldn’t have happened were it not for François and Manuela Chidaine and their diligence in showing the grand possibilities of its terroir.” Jon Bonné, The New French Wine

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