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Thibaud Boudignon

Thibaud Bourdignon is one of the most exciting young stars to emerge from the Loire Valley in recent years. He coaxes some of the very finest expressions of Chenin Blanc from his terroirs in Anjou and Savennières.

Before going out on his own and rapidly establishing himself as one of the go-to addresses for Chenin Blanc in the Loire, Thibaud accumulated a wealth of knowledge and expertise working at some of the world’s great estates. Most notably this included work at Philippe Charlopin in Gevrey-Chambertin, Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Olivier in Bordeaux, not to mention a stint in Australia. In the late 2000s, he was hired by Savennières producer Château Soucherie. With his insistence on strict organic practices and his touch in the cellar, he elevated this historic estate to new heights. He finally began making wines under his own name in 2009. Now with a total of 7 hectares under his control, Thibaud produces a meagre 20-odd thousand bottles and is now considered the leading light in this appellation, there simply isn’t enough wine to go around.

Although far from ‘entry-level’, the first of his wines is his Anjou blanc. These come from 35-year-old vines grown on shallow grey schist and rhyolite soils. This cuvée shows the purity and precision that Thibaud is capable of achieving from the humble yet proud terroirs of Anjou. He has planted a handful of prime parcels in the Savennières appellation including his 0.5 hectare “La Vigne Cendrée” which is not far from the famous “La Roche-aux-Moines” vineyard. Here the clay content is greater (also schist and granite) resulting in a more muscled Chenin and the most Burgundian of his line-up. His other offering is that of the “Le Clos de Frémine” which is planted just below the winery near the village of La Possonnière. Here the soils are pure schist but there is a bit more sand at the base of the site so what ends up in the barrels is Chenin that is more floral, delicate and aromatic yet with the trademark Thibaud tension. With his “Clos de la Hutte” bottling (situated next to his newly built cellar), Thibaud aims to redirect this historic vineyard’s destiny, which few would argue not being on par with two of the region’s most fabled vineyards Coulée de Sérrant and Roche aux Moines.

Clos de Frémine

With a 1,000-bottle output there isn’t much to go around and stylistically this wine straddles remarkable finesse and harmony along with impressive complexity and power. Lastly, one cannot forget his offering of Rosé de Loire (Anjou) – made from a plot of Cabernet Franc and Grolleau in Anjou. It’s a fresh, mineral, beautiful Rose and flies under the radar.

His vineyard work is what you would expect – organically worked vineyards, hand harvesting at yields well below the AOC limitations. Wines aged on lees, minimal sulphur with very little new wood. Grapes are whole bunch-pressed and he uses a combination of 300-1,200 litre barrels, a lot of which is from Austria’s Stockinger. His style is one that achieves striking purity, tension, depth and intensity harnessing all his precious terroirs have to offer. His wines are profound and have sufficient structure to reward cellaring. His wines are now commonplace on a lot of France’s 3-star Michelin wine lists, which pretty much sums it all up.

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