One of my favorite producer visits to make each year is with Patrick Baudouin. He is something out of a JRR Tolkien book, perhaps an aspiring wizard (which he may already be) or a guru of sorts, who is not short on opinion when it comes to the winemaking practices of other estates when driving around to visit his.
His vineyards are certified, but well beyond the typical organic practice. Once you set foot in his vineyards, it is hard to keep up with him as he starts a fast paced walk up and down, row after row, taking note of their progress. He is a man at one with his vines and it shows in the delicate nature of his wines.
Patrick’s wines are somewhat magical in expression. His whites, made exclusively from Chenin Blanc, reveal layer after layer of savory notes of fruits, dried herbs and grasses, acacia honey, and spices, all woven together on an ethereal wavelength. He is a musician turned maestro, conducting his vines to deliver soft, beautiful and tranquil music.
Lay of the Land
Patrick Baudouin’s 13.5 hectares of vineyards are located in Anjou and the Coteaux du Layon, which are situated on the great terroirs of the Anjou Noir. Patrick explained that the Anjou Noir is named after the dark-colored ancient rocks of the Massif Armoricain. This Massif was formerly a range of mountains that were once as high as the Alps but over the last 400 million years have eroded down to rolling hills of ancient metamorphic and volcanic rock that rise just over 400 meters above the sea. Today, the region is protected by a ridge to the southwest which rises to 200 meters and keeps the rainfall here in the lowest of all of the Loire Valley. However, because the area lies between the Layon and the Loire River, the humidity remains high and conditions for botrytis are ideal, creating what we know as the signature style off-dry white wine made from Chenin Blanc.