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François Chidaine Les Argiles 2017



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  • Vouvray in all but name
  • Biodynamic, old-vine Chenin Blanc
  • Incredible tension, purity and texture

“As always, this sublime bottling is drawn from a series of clay-rich Vouvray sites (argiles=clay) that surround the Clos Baudoin. These include l’Espagnolela Chatteriel’Homme and la Reugnières and, le Haut Lieu—the same site of Huet fame. Set away from the river, these sites are mostly populated with 40-year-old bush vines grown on deep, chalky clay over a subsoil of limestone. The fruit was hand-harvested with multiple passes through the vineyards. Fermentation occurred with indigenous yeasts, and aging was on lees in wooden barrels (demi-muids) of 600-litre capacity for around 11 months.

Although this wine is 100% Vouvray it is not permitted to be labelled as such because it is fermented and aged across the river in Montlouis. The AOC law (in a section that has historically been ignored) states that if a wine is to be labelled Vouvray, it must be matured within the boundaries of Vouvray itself. For some reason the French authorities have now started cracking down on this (when in the past it was typically ignored) and so Chidaine, whose cellars are in nearby Montlouis, is forced to drop the use of the Vouvray AOC from his labels. No matter, the vineyard name, the region (even though no longer listed on the label) and the quality of the wine remains! This is a rich and powerful Argiles offering waves of ripe nectarine, baked apple and candied lemon as well as hints of buttery lees. The palate is fresh, cool and saline. Indeed, a delicious Argiles.” – Importer’s note


Chris Kissack

“This comes from Vouvray, an assemblage from a number of different parcels. It has 3.5 g/l residual sugar, with 3.71 g/l acidity and 13% alcohol. It has been in bottle for about 18 months now. Aromatically it starts off smoky and restrained, showing a chalky, liquid mineral note, wrapped around a core of finely dried citrus fruits. The palate shows the same style, with rich fruit intertwined with a saline minerality, plenty of rich substance, not to mention a delightful acid lift as well. This is a quite delicious Les Argiles” – Chris Kissack, The Wine Doctor