Throughout June we explored all aspects of Chenin with a remarkable group of growers who are all taking this noble variety to its maximum potential. Chenin is one of the most in vogue white grapes being grown around the world, with its qualitative epicenter found in the Loire Valley of France. Few white wines can deliver the kind of distinctive single site expressions capable of challenging the greats of Chablis and Burgundy, that great Chenin can.
With four vignerons, three from the Loire and one from the Swartland, we discussed Chenin’s remarkable ability to reflect place through a tasting of those producers’ most expressive cuvées. To close the series, we spoke with Terroir Specialist & Geologist Brenna Quigley who spent some time observing the dirt, rocks, and soil composition of the Loire last summer. Brenna provided an important context into some of the incredible geology present in this region, and how it affects the wines of Thibaud Boudignon, Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups, and Le Rocher des Violettes.
We’ve linked the full interviews plus the wines that we discussed below. For your convenience, we’ve also mapped the interviews out by topic, so you can simply click on a timestamped topic below to be sent to that moment in the YouTube video. Should you want to bounce around between a few topics on the same video, the YouTube descriptions for each video also wield these timestamps.
THIBAUD BOUDIGNON // Savennières
Thibaud Boudignon (@thibaud.boudignon) is one of the most exciting figures in wine today and uses Chenin as a medium to express the historic terroir that he farms. We discussed his remarkable, biodynamically-farmed Chenin cuvées from Savennières: ‘La Vigne Cendrée’, ‘Clos Fremine’, & ‘Clos de la Hutte’.
00:56 – Thibaud’s Background & How He Ended Up in the Loire
7:08 – Changing the Farming at Chateau Soucherie
11:28 – Purchasing His First Vines in Savennières
15:40 – How Thibaud Found ‘Clos de la Hutte’ & ‘Clos Fremine’
20:00 – Key Domaines & Terroir in Savennières
23:40 – Working with Young Vines & Massal Selection
29:51 – Global Warming in the Loire
40:25 – ‘Vigne Cendrée’
42:34 – ‘Clos Fremine’
44:32 – ‘Clos de la Hutte’
48:13 – Comparing ‘Vigne Cendrée’, ‘Clos Fremine’, & ‘Clos de la Hutte’ & How Chenin Expresses the Terroir He Works With
53:16 – Rosé de Loire
DOMAINE DE LA TAILLE AUX LOUPS // Montlouis-sur-Loire
Jacky & Jean-Philippe Blot (@jeanphilippeblot) of Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups talked about how the Domaine started a sparkling wine revolution in the Loire in the early 90s, and how they set the standard for dry Chenin. We tasted the father-son duo’s Triple Zero, ‘Clos de Mosny’, ‘Le Hauts de Husseau’, & ‘Venise’.
1:33 – Jacky’s Background & How He Ended Up in Montlouis
9:02 – Approach to Making Dry, Organic Chenin in the Mid-80s
11:30 – Triple Zero
16:07 – Why Chenin Blanc is Well-Suited for Sparkling Wine
24:45 – Jean-Philippe on ‘Clos de Mosny’
31:43 – The 2018 Vintage
36:38 – Global Warming in the Loire
42:27 – ‘Les Hauts de Husseau’
48:22 – ‘Venise’
53:52 – Comparing Vouvray & Montlouis
MULLINEUX WINES // THE Swartland
Mullineux Family Wines (@mullineuxwines) was established in 2007 in the Swartland region of South Africa and is owned and managed by Chris and Andrea Mullineux. We discussed with Andrea how the Swartland has a very unique geology which allows for the exploration of its various terroirs through Chenin through a tasting of her ‘Old Vines White’, ‘Quartz’, ‘Granite’, & ‘Straw Wine’.
00:57 – Andrea’s Background & What Brought Her to the Swartland
4:40 – Andrea on South African Chenin Blanc
8:49 – The Resurgence of Chenin in the Last Decade in South Africa & Beyond
12:10 – How Mullineux’s Farming Practices & Ecosystem Reflect the Terroir of the Swartland
16:05 – ‘Old Vines White’
20:29 – Chenin-based Blends in South Africa
26:49 – ‘Quartz – Leliefontein’
31:56 – Barrel Use
33:41 – ‘Granite – Old Vines’
36:18 – Global Warming
41:01 – Malolactic Fermentation
44:19 – Making White Wine for Red Wine Drinkers
46:01 – Reduction
49:34 – ‘Straw Wine’
LE ROCHER DES VIOLETTES // Montlouis-sur-Loire
Since starting his Domaine (@lerocherdesviolettes) in 2004, Xavier’s meticulous organic farming and mineral-pure expressions of Chenin have vaulted his name to the top echelons of Loire producers. We discussed Xavier’s beginnings, the ‘spirit’ of organic farming in Montlouis, and tasted his Pétillant Originel, ‘Touche Mitaine’, ‘Négrette’, & ‘Les Borderies’.
00:05 – Xavier’s Background & How He Ended Up in Montlouis
2:57 – Global Warming in the Loire
5:28 – Situation & Beginnings of Le Rocher des Violettes
13:11 – Pétillant Originel 2015
20:19 – ‘Touche Mitaine’
25:57 – Global Warming
33:30 – Why Montlouis is a Center for Organic Farming
36:45 – ‘Négrette’
42:26 – ‘Les Borderies’
47:30 – The Current Harvest & Comparison to ’19
BRENNA QUIGLEY, GEOLOGIST & TERROIR SPECIALIST
Finally, we spoke with Brenna Quigley (@brennaquigley), a celebrated geologist of the wine world. Brenna shared her insights on Chenin terroir in the Loire, having observed Thibaud Boudignon and Jacky Blot’s vineyards last Summer.
Brenna bought an incredibly unique, scientific perspective to the table to close out this series; a geologic evaluation of these various terroirs and how the wines of Thibaud Boudignon, Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups, & Le Rocher des Violettes reflect that geology.
3:45 – Basic Geology of the Loire & France
8:50 – Savennières
13:17 – Terroir & Taste: Savennières (‘Vigne Cendrée’, Thibaud Boudignon)
19:52 – Terroir & Taste: Savennières (‘Clos de la Hutte’, Thibaud Boudignon)
28:32 – Terroir & Taste: Montlouis (‘Clos Hochet’ & ‘Haute de Husseau’, Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups)
40:41 – Terroir & Taste: Vouvray (‘Clos Venise’, Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups)
45:17 – Comparing ‘Clos de la Hutte’ and ‘Clos Venise’
49:14 – Why is Chenin is Such a Good Arbiter of Terroir?
53:29 – Terroir & Taste: Montlouis (‘Touche Mitaine’, Le Rocher des Violettes)
55:32 – Terroir & Taste: Montlouis (‘Borderie’, Le Rocher des Violettes)
If you are interested in more of Brenna’s observations of geology and taste, please do check out her latest project, Roadside Terroir (@roadsideterroir), an audio travel guide for wine lovers who want to dig into the subject of terroir.