You know those orange flashlights that airport workers use to direct planes into their parking spaces? I want a set of those so I can wave you all in the direction of this delicious, affordable, pitch-perfect Chinon from Baudry-Dutour.
Yes, this is one of “those” wines: The wine that manages to stand out on a table-full of fancier competition; the wine that leaves you feeling energized rather than ready for a nap; the wine the cool-kid sommeliers would call “crushable.” I was asked recently to comment on trends I’ve been seeing in the wine market, and there’s no doubt that bright, crunchy, often un-oaked reds are undoubtedly “a thing.” We’ve seen it with the international sensation that is Cru Beaujolais, and this Cabernet Franc from Chinon is in every way a kindred spirit. Because there are many wines from Chinon that strive for more Bordeaux-like dimensions, getting my message across about wines like “Amaranthe” is more difficult than when a Cru Beaujolais is on offer. So, let me repeat: This Chinon pulses with Burgundian energy and delivers a level of polish and perfume that transcends its humble price point. The dynamic Loire Valley partnership of Christophe Baudry (from the celebrated family that includes his uncle, Bernard, one of Chinon’s all-time greats) and agronomist/enologist Jean-Martin Dutour has grown to become a mini-empire in the Chinon AOC; “Amaranthe” is a newer
from them, a study in purity and simplicity that just bowled us all over. And, given how enormously popular Cru Beaujolais is among our subscribers, I have a suggestion for all of you today: try this. Believe me, you won’t regret it—and you won’t be able to stop at one!
Another takeaway from this wine is the breadth of Cabernet Franc’s range. It can produce wines of brooding, earthy power, as in Bordeaux’s Right Bank, or it can be a more ethereal, aromatic, silken charmer, à la red Burgundy. In our experience lately, not just with wines from Chinon but from other Loire appellations like Saumur-Champigny, the latter style is winning the day. Still, a lot of people have an image of Chinon as being excessively peppery and rustic, to which I must say: It’s time to re-visit Chinon!
In 1990, Christophe Baudry’s parents handed him Domaine de la Perrière, located in the bucolic town of Cravant-les-Coteaux and part of Christophe’s family tree going back to 1398 (Cravant-les-Coteaux, a few miles east of Chinon if following the Vienne River, is also home to Bernard Baudry’s celebrated estate). In 1993, while Christophe was honing his craft, newcomer Jean-Martin Dutour took over the winemaking responsibilities of Domaine du Roncée in Panzoult, another relaxed, ancient town abutting Cravant-les-Coteaux. Fast-forward to 2003, where the two wine minds met and formed a partnership known as Baudry-Dutour. Between the two of them (Christophe runs the business, Jean-Martin creates the wine), they have grown to run four properties in Chinon, each bottling its own wines under the Baudry-Dutour banner. Fruit for the Amaranthe bottling comes from the Domaine du Roncée, where the vines average about 20 years of age and are planted in alluvial gravel soils.
Baudry-Dutour follows the lutte raisonnée ("reasoned fight") philosophy, implementing organic practices that can immediately be seen in the vineyards. Upon his arrival back in ’93, Jean-Martin immediately started planting grass in between rows so the vines would struggle for nutrients. He also takes on the arduous task of harvesting and vinifying each plot separately to achieve the perfect blend. A new winery was built in 2006 “in order to recreate gravity”—meaning belts and pumps are no longer used. Indigenous yeasts start the fermentation and after resting in stainless steel, the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The 2018 Amaranthe is pure, unadulterated pleasure—all juicy fruit and mineral-laden earth. In the glass, it shines a deep garnet-red (which inspired the name) and sends up an array of perfumed aromas, including red and black cherry, cranberry, pomegranate, licorice, damp violets, tobacco, wild herbs, and turned earth. These carry over to the tangy, medium-bodied palate, finishing on a floral note and activating the salivary response in the process. It is ready to enjoy now: just pull the cork and serve in Burgundy stems at 55-60 degrees and you’ll be hard-pressed to find something it doesn’t pair well with. This is the red wine of long, languid lunches (making multiple bottles a necessity) and easy weeknight dinners—invigorating and ready for anything. Roast a chicken, grill a pork loin, smoke some salmon…however you choose to play it, Baudry-Dutour has you well covered. Enjoy!