Francois Chidaine le Chenin d'Ailleurs 2016 Wine of the Week

If you admire purity in chenin blanc, this is an address to remember. JOEL B. PAYNE, Vinous Media

You have to look to the historical collections of regional leaders Foreau and Huet to find comparable consistently high quality, making it clear that Chidaine is one of the world’s finest craftsmen in the medium of white wine, not to mention a continuing source of amazing value. DAVID SCHILDKNECHT, The Wine Advocate

Tasting [Chidaine’s] wines, I was once again confronted with a remarkable array of cuvées with perfectly poised structures and such elegantly presented seams of fruit… I was suddenly reminded of the wines of the late Didier Dagueneau. The common themes were purity and precision, the wines having the same vibrancy and definition. CHRIS KISSACK, The Wine Doctor

Many of you may be fans of this cult estate in the Loire Valley who produces some of the greatest expressions of Chenin anywhere on earth, you may not be aware however of the extent to which he, and many of his colleagues, were affected by the now infamous frosts of 2016. Chidaine reports having lost nearly 90% of his potential yields to the devastating weather event that tore through Europe in April causing havoc not only for wine growers but large-scale agriculture everywhere.

To combat this tragic loss Francois, with the permission of the AOC, purchased some fruit from Limoux, a region he was already well familiar with and one that did not suffer the full wrath of the frosts, to produce a new wine to satisfy the huge demand globally for his offerings. I tend to be a little cautious of wines like this, purchased fruit from vineyards he doesn’t work himself, but that nervousness was completely unwarranted here and Chidaine has released an impressive, pristine and engaging wine that would, in normal times, slide right in to his usual stable of sensational Loire whites.

While we did secure a parcel of these to offer everyone there was never that much to go around to begin with and we have only a meagre 15 dozen to share and so are offering this to a group of VIPs for now. I hope you trust me when I say that this is a completely convincing and totally worthy example crafted by one of the top few producers in the Loire, something that I think will provide a lot of pleasure over the next couple of years. He has captured the terrific sense of snappy verve that is the hallmark of the 2016 vintage, the texture and slick minerality of his house style and at a fraction of the price of his normal releases.

I honestly believe that Francois Chidaine is one of the most talented and gifted young winemakers in France today and he is working with a variety that doesn’t allow for mistakes. To coax the most out of Chenin you need to be meticulous and focused on the minute details of every aspect of its production. Anyone who has tasted these wines will attest to the quality and character of what he puts in the bottle. I always think it is a crying shame that the best Loire producers are not given the same attention as their counterparts in Burgundy and Germany, certainly their wines are at the same level qualitatively. The upshot here is that you can buy something from a producer like this for a reasonable price, this just isn’t the case in Burgundy anymore and its getting harder in Germany. Grab some, drink it and if it isn’t as good as I say it is bring it back, I will drink the rest myself.

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