Viva La Chablis A Perfect Summer Wine
By Kerry Winslow, grapelive
The Chablis AOC White Burgundy classification began in 1938 and covers about 4,800 hectares of vines with AC, Village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites and newer still is non Cru single vineyard or proprietary cuvee wines. Chablis is a cool climate terroir with unique Kimmeridge clay, limestone and river stone soils, the main Grand Cru area occupies a single small southwest facing slope just north of the town of Chablis itself.
This historic Burgundy area has been around since the mid 15th century with most of the wine being shipped to England, but the area was razed by the Huguenots in 1568 and was slow to rebuild it’s importance, it regained it’s glory in the late 1800’s only to be hit with a devastating vine decease and didn’t recover until post WWI and again after WWII.
Now Chablis is renown world wide for crystal clear and mineral driven Chardonnay that usually is unadorned by overt oak, though most Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines see limited amount of new French oak, and some Grand Cru, like Les Clos can see 100% new oak in it’s aging. Names like Raveneau, Fevre, Dauvissat, Collet, Moreau and Michel are top producers and rival their famous cuisine in Puligny, Chassagne, Corton and Montrachet for quality and collectable value. The main Cru sites include 40 Premier Cru, though there are 17 Crus allowed for labeling these include: Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaillons, Montmains, Côte de Léchet, Beauroy, Vauligneau, Vaudevey, Vaucoupin, Vosgros, Les Fourneaux, Côte de Vaubarousse, Berdiot, Chaume de Talvat, Côte de Jouan and Les Beauregards. The Top Grand Cru number seven official sites: Bougros, Les Preuses, Vaudésir, Grenouilles, Valmur, Les Clos and Blanchot.
Many critics consider Chablis the purest example of Chardonnay showing the best transparency and terroir with intense acidity and mineral layers with a slight flinty spice and a light pale hue that can seem to have slight greenish tint. Without question Chablis reputation is still growing and it’s fortunes rising, with exciting new producers making waves with names like Piuze, Savary and Chistophe becoming the next generation of super stars!
Chablis Values for Summer
2013 Francine et Olivier Savary, Chablis, Selection Vieilles Vignes, White Burgundy, France.
The Savary Old Vine Chablis is a wonderful Chardonnay, it is known to bring joy and laughter and brighten even the darkest day, it is easy on the wallet and oh so rewarding, with the new release 2013 being a glorious wine as well. Since discovering this for myself with their 2007 vintage, the Savary Old Vines has always been a top pick in my book, there is superb quality, great price and lots to admire in complexity, terroir and energy in these wines, and for me, I like the Old Vines just as much as the higher priced Premier Cru if not more. I have tended to call the Savary Chablis the Baby Raveneau, since not only do these wines offer sublime pleasure, and look a bit like them with a little yellow wax top, but because Bernard Raveneau himself did lend a talented hand to the Savary’s and has consulted for them, along with the Collet brothers and Kermit Lynch their importer being influential, this is not to take anything away from the Savary’s (they have really come into their own as winegrowers) themselves and I admire and respect the hard work and their beautiful plots of vines very much, and I do myself buy more than a few bottles to consume of their handiwork. The 2013 is surprisingly full, vigorous and intense with a leesy smoky nose, lively acid rich palate and a striking steely core, if blind tasted I might go for a Grand Cru or Premier Cru at least, this is awesome stuff, and drinking remarkably poised even now with vivid layers, vitality and persistence. The nose is smoky, mineral laced and with a hint of salty goodness with white flowers, green apple and citrus leading to a bright and zesty palate of lemon/lime, apple and subtle peach with wet river stones, liquid steel, melon, flinty spice and a hint of soft cream, while always being razor sharp, focused and full of drive, lingering with some more citrus and a touch of pear and chalky aftertaste, brilliant in everyday, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2013 Domaine Pinson, Chablis, White Burgundy.
Imported by Charles Neal in San Francisco, the Domaine Pinson & Freeres Chablis is one of the best deals in Chardonnay around, especially this 2013 AC Chablis, it shows wonderful freshness, drive and classic steely character. This charming little wine is easy to love and a great value for the summer, you’ll want a few bottles around just to pop at picnics and or with casual company, it is a nose fuss white that has plenty to offer. The profile is what you’d expect, the nose has a hint of straw, wet stones, mineral and white flowers leading to a palate of more of the same with vibrant citrus, pear, green apple, leaning to lemon fruit and with a hint of matchstick, liquid steel and hazelnut. There is a soft chalk note and lingering lime and peach on the finish with vitality and good acid structure, as well as a hint of spice and saline. This pleasing Chablis will surprise for it’s balance, detail and price, drink over the next 2 to 3 years, best from 2015 to 2018, this is very nice stuff!
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2013 Domaine Costal, Chablis, Les Truffieres, White Burgundy, France.
This little wine has an all-star power lineup behind it, with Kermit Lynch, Bernard Raveneau and the Collet’s all helping here, so if you are looking to impress, but want a great value too, then you should be buying this great little Chablis Les Truffieres buy the case load, this is one of the best kept secrets in the white Burgundy world and like Savary are like baby Raveneau(s) that you can no quilt open anytime. So far every vintage of Domaine Costal has impressed, there are two bottling imported, this one from a single site, Les Truffieres, and a Premier Cru Vaillons, both should be searched out, but for me the Les Truffieres really kicks ass for the price and with it’s unique terroir character it is a winner. The 2013 Costal Les Truffieres has a palate of dense fruits, mineral and complex layers, the nose starts with wet river stones, like a soft stream in the forest, with lemon, citrus blossoms, kiwi and dried herbs leading to a fairly vigorous palate of lime, lemon, apple and white stone fruits along with tropical notes, chalk, steely mineral and faint touch of hazelnut. This vintage saw about 3 months in large cask to smooth it out, but it is vibrant, dynamic and refreshing, with air an earthy charm comes through and it gets more rounded and is very stylish. It’s clear this wine has personality and pedigree, and the finish is excellent, drink this beauty over the next 3 to 5 years, but best now, I like it’s edgy vibe and youthful side, don’t miss this classy Chardonnay.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2013 Domaine Roland Lavantureaux, Chablis “Fourchaume” Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
I have always admired the quality of this Chablis house, especially their Petite Chablis, and these 2013 wines are spectacular and utterly delicious with verve and depth. I said exactly the something last year with the 2012’s too, but I like the 2013 vintage even better! Kermit Lynch has been the long time importer of Domaine Roland Lavantureaux and they have been a steady performer for decades making a solid and correct lineup of Chardonnay with pure regional character. The 2013 Fourchaume Premier Cru is starts with a hue of green/yellow and a nose of wet stones, citrus blossoms and lime leading to a surprisingly full palate of citrus/lime essence, green apple, white peach and has a steely core with chalky mineral, clove spice, hazelnut and lemon oil. This wine, just like last year, is balanced, harmonious and vibrant with wonderful intensity/tension throughout, this is a stunning Chablis, these last vintages have been by far the best wines from Lavantureaux I’ve tried in 10 years, if you are looking for a top Chablis at a super fair price this is it, no question, drink now through 2020, absolutely stunning.
($37 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive