There’s no doubt about it, Thibaud Boudignon is on a bit of a roll. After his stellar 2014s, it was hard to see how the wines could get much better. Visiting Thibaud’s brand new state of the art cellar in Savennieres earlier in the year we were eager with anticipation. Having previously made the wines under the family home, in severely cramped conditions, this new facility sits right above his flagship new vineyard, Clos de la Hutte and provides all the space he could want. Furthermore, it’s extremely well equipped. “I wanted a quality of ageing found in cellars in Saumur (i.e.deep limestone caves), without any of the hassle” Thibaud explained. What this means in practice is a hospital grade air filtration double flue, a geothermic temperature regulation system and state of the art hydrometer. If that sounds rather technical, it is, but it’s all in aid of getting the atmosphere in the cellar right. “Oak uptake can be handled so much better if you have precise control over the humidity and temperature of your cellar – it is a lot of stuff, the first time they’ve all been used in a wine cellar in France, but for me, it was very important to have the best for the wines”. Surprisingly, for all this new technology, the active winemaking here remains remarkably simple with all efforts directed into allowing each of his four cuvees to speak as clearly and faithfully as possible. New tweaks afforded by the new cellar include a new press that allows for a longer more gentle pressing, new cooling tanks that allow him precise control over exactly when fermentation starts, and a computerised system for adjusting his new humidity and temperature gizmos.
Tasting through the complete range of 2016s and 2015s it is clear to see that this new working environment has helped to push Thibaud to the next level, truly maximising the potential of his great vineyards, adding new layers of sophistication and precision to his four cuvees. Couple this with his near maniacal work in the vineyards and the Boudignon domaine is starting to set the bar for crystal clear, dry, purposeful Loire Chenin Blanc very high indeed.