2020 Christophe et Fils, Chablis AC, White Burgundy, France.
As per normal, the latest release of Christophe et Fils Chablis starts with white flowers, wet stones, bright citrus oil, green apple and steely vitality with a slight salty essence, in a pure Chardonnay that has a laser sharp light to medium framed palate that also includes lime, flinty mineral tones and a bright clove spice, all adding to crisp personality in this beautiful white. The body gains texture and subtle roundness with air, but this racy Chablis stays vigorous and energy filled throughout, appealing to those that love Raveneau and Dauvissat, and who doesn’t? I was first turned on to this producer by Raj Parr, the renowned sommelier, like always he was right, and Christophe has now become a cult producer, though still an exceptional value for what you get, and this 2020 vintage is quite stunning and crystalline with chiseled detailing, lemony zip and lingering with chalky oyster shell. As mentioned in my prior reviews, the Christophe et Fils wines, imported by The Source, are affordable and brilliant and I highly recommend chasing them down, especially this ultra delicious vintage, though I will say, every year I’ve tried has been fantastic. I know, Christophe’s Premier Crus are even more outstanding and collectable, but damn this basic Chablis is everything I could ever want and goes fabulous with a range of food options from oysters and clams to soft farm cheeses and light poultry dishes. In Burgundy, terroir is everything and this wine comes from a good portion of Chablis’ vineyards that face the Grand Cru Blanchots and vines that sit just west on the hill that is home to the Premier Cru, Montée de Tonnerre. The soil here is unusually brittle Kimmeridgian marl with clay and lots of the fossils for which this type of limestone is most famous for, and is the secret sauce to these great, cool toned and steely wines.
Even the Christophe et Fils Petite Chablis, from the family’s original vines, is absolutely gorgeous as well, but this regular Chablis AC is at another level, on par with many much more expensive Premier Crus, even by some famous names, such is the precision and quality here. As noted, with a holistic view to farming and a very gentile touch in the cellar these Christophe et Fils Chablis bottlings are true terroir driven wines, they are vibrant and expressive in a way that really captures the essence of the region and winemaker Sebastien Christophe is a star. His story is awesome and there is a lot more to come, but as a young kid with just a couple of acres of average vineyard land at best, plus a small half hectare parcel of Petit Chablis, he has risen fast, seemingly out of nowhere to become of of the region’s brightest and most gifted talents, with now three of the most heralded Premier Cru parcels in the region, Fourchaume, Mont de Milieu and my all time favorite Montée de Tonnerre! In recent years Sebastien even added a few rows of Blanchots, of which is now his most rare offering. Christophe has vines set on Chablis’ classic soils, with a combination of the legendary Kimmeridgian limestone marls and Portlandian limestone scree with various topsoil mixtures of clay and rocks, all of which give these distinct Chardonnay wines their unique and coveted personalities. The purity of this wine is exceptional, the grapes were pressed and then settled for 24 hours before being racked into another tank where it went through a natural yeast fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 1-2 months. The juice saw a single stirring of the lees (batonnage), typically employed in cold vintages to add texture and then the wine, which went through malolactic was then aged about 8 months, again solely in stainless, before bottling with low SO2. This is excellent and exciting stuff and I am as thrilled now as when I first tried my first bottle of Christophe!
($32 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive