Didier Chaffardon

Anjou, Loire, France

I first met Dider at the post-salon and rather off-the-books tasting at Babbass’s chai in Beaulieu-sur-Layon. I’ve been to a DIY salon or two in my day, but I hadn’t quite prepared for what was beyond the barn doors, past the for-hire crepe stand and the queue for the literal outhouse. It was a bit of a who's-who of natural wine, with what seemed like a hundred people bumping elbows, trying to shove a glass into the personal space of Bouju, Castex, Blanchard, or Babbass himself, to name a few.

Unlike most of the salt-of-the-earth, rather punkish winemakers there, the guests seemed unaware they were in the dead middle of nowhere France, far-removed from their shiny city careers as sommeliers, bartenders, or general natural wine fanbro-ery; women were nervously watching the shine of their silver costume-type cowboy boots get muddied on the unpaved floor, men wearing sunglasses at night and embroidered silk jackets producing unconvincing laughs, desperate for anybody to notice them. 

In a sea of egos, there was Didier. Calm, patient, and wholly willing to have a chat. With a broad, kind face behind a frazzled beard, I have to lean in to hear him over the raucous hum behind me, but it’s a pleasure nonetheless. He talks slowly about how he settled in the Anjou after working in Provence and Savoie, and of course about his wines. He presents them as if he was showing a work of art, and in a way he was. There’s love, compassion, and a quiet strength behind Didier. He seemed to me that night to meet the energy of each person that approached him, and I feel that reflected in his wines: each cuvee is treated differently, based on the vintage, the yields, and the character of the grapes. It’s all to say that in a world full of Clovises, be a Didier.