These are some of the finest Chenin Blancs produced anywhere on the planet. Already a domaine with a cult following, demand for Chidaine’s wines has become greater still in recent vintages, thanks in part to rave reviews from Antonio Galloni and Rebecca Gibb MW.

You may remember we offered a selection of 2018s in October, but the first tranche of 2019s has become available a little earlier this year. If such timing seems idiosyncratic, it is easily explained: the sweeter wines are typically bottled after the dry wines, and the sweetness of a given cuvée can vary from one vintage to the next, so maintaining any kind of schedule is close to impossible.

François Chidaine established the domaine in 1989, with just a few hectares in Montlouis to his name. At that time, Montlouis was an unfashionable appellation, overshadowed by Vouvray, which lies on the opposite bank of the Loire. Montlouis has since undergone what David Schildknecht (The Wine Advocate, Issue 172) describes as ‘one of the most amazing and exciting wine revivals of modern France.’ Alongside Jacky Blot, François Chidaine has been the main impetus for that revival.

The domaine today amounts to 37 hectares, including 10 in Vouvray, yet the emphasis remains on single-parcel wines, ranging in sweetness from bone dry to moelleux (medium-sweet, with around 25g/L residual sugar). Farmed biodynamically, the vineyards are rigorously worked with a shallow plough to enable the roots to penetrate deep into the tuffeau limestone soil – sandier and lighter in Montlouis than in Vouvray, and strewn with distinctive, black flint pebbles known as choisilles.

Chidaine’s Moelleux hails from Vouvray – where the vineyards are prone to botrytis – but must be labelled Vin de France, since it’s vinified not in Vouvray but in Montlouis. The fabulous Clos Habert, from old vines on clay-rich soils in Montlouis, is off-dry or tendre, while the remaining three wines offered today are dry, and showcase the differences in terroir across the domaine.
François has now been joined at the domaine by his daughter Alice, who honed her craft working at Dagueneau, Clos Rougeard, and with South African Chenin specialist Chris Alheit. Didier Dagueneau was a mentor to François, and parallels have been drawn between their wines. Chidaine’s 2019s are characterised by a knockout combination of succulent, ripe fruit and shimmering acidity (despite a fiercely hot, dry summer, which resulted in exceptionally low yields).

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2019 Clos du Breuil, Montlouis (sec)

A dry yet juicy Chenin, the 2019 Clos du Breuil shows subtle aromatics of florals, bruised apple and pastry. A focused expression that still manages to exude a sense of ease and tenderness. While it has gone through full malo – a spontaneous result – it keeps a line of tension and a hint of tangy salinity on the finish.

Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous, 90 points, 2023 – 2029

6x75cl • £120.00 IB


2019 Les Bournais, Montlouis (sec)

Planted in 1998, this is the youngest parcel that the domaine owns on argilo-calcaire soil, a little bit like Vouvray. There’s a meter or so of top soil before hitting the limestone. The 2019 Bournais is ripe and fuller in style, offering welcoming peach fruit and cream-filled pastry characters. That slight creaminess is likely derived from the full spontaneous malo, which is not something Chidaine looks for. This cuvée is typically a little more expressive in youth compared with the Clos du Breuil and that’s evident in 2019. You should expect a wine that focuses on texture and be welcomed with open arms. The wine elevates itself on the finish with a fine, almost saline tang and chalky note, offering texture and line.

Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous, 92 points, 2021 – 2028

6x75cl • £135.00 IB


2019 Les Grillonnières by Alice Chidaine, Montlouis (sec)

A wine made by Francois Chidaine’s daughter, Alice, following the same philosophy of her father in terms of winemaking. The 2019 Les Grillonnieres by Alice Chidaine is made from a parcel the family has owned since 2015 but sports old vines on clay-flint mainly with a small portion of sand at the bottom of the slope. It’s an easy and open style with ripe fruit (14% alcohol) bringing weight, a touch of warmth and a sweet, smooth glycerol texture. There’s plenty of concentration and it’s finely textured but it’s not particularly complex. the 2019 is ready for drinking.

Rebecca Gibb MW, Vinous, 89 points, 2021 – 2026

6x75cl • £135.00 IB


2019 Clos Habert, Montlouis (tendre)

The Clos Habert is adjacent to the Clos du Breuil, but the soil here is a touch heavier. A section of the vineyard was replanted 25 years ago, but the majority of the vines are 60-80 years old. The Clos Habert 2019 is made off-trade or tendre, with around 18g/L of residual sugar. It boasts flamboyant aromas of honeysuckle, tangerine and stone fruit, and a lush texture. Shimmering acidity provides balancing and a cleansing, subtly saline finish.

6x75cl • £126.00 IB


2016 Moelleux, Vin de France

Grown in Vouvray, on deep clay soils atop Tuffeau limestone, this is a medium-sweet wine of tremendous verve and complexity. Coming direct from the domaine but with the benefit of four years’ bottle age (like 2021, 2016 was a vintage ravaged by frost, but the tiny crop was of the highest possible quality), it reveals a wealth of botrytised stone and citrus fruit aromas, and delicate notes of fig and dried herbs. For all that richness, it’s remarkably light on its feet: fresh acidity and a flinty mineral character make their presence felt on the long, moreish finish.

6x75cl • £138.00 IB