Bourgogne in a word: Climat

Chambertin Clos de Beze
photo (c) Scott Zebarth

Bourgogne is but a place built upon a word, of wines designed and articulated through their very own personal vernacular. The region’s most important vineyards are defined in a word, in summary and without comparison. Climat is the word and you may be shocked to hear how it is expressed as a highly complex chain of topographical, elemental and ethnological conditions. The glossary is much longer than you might think and adds up to quite a versatile declaration. To arrive at the distilled quotient of one, no less than 20 words are employed, exercised and ushered into explanation. The lineage travels through geography-geology-topography-landscape-position-relief-aspect-exposure-slant-elevation-slope-soil-vegetation-weather-microclimate-humankind-heritage-history-tradition-knowhow and temperament. While we understand the intellectual autonomy of choosing the unescorted word Climat as acting on behalf of all these conditions, what makes it so specific as to be exclusively owned by the people of Bourgogne?

It’s really quite simple. The people of Bourgogne coined the term or rather it came to them, as naturally as signs and portents but in the most positive, abiding and permanent of ways. Climat as in the Latin verbum sapienti, “a word to the wise,” meaning it stands alone, suffices, tells the whole story. Many will ask how many base and necessary conceits comprise this peerless notion that is Climat? The answer is not how many but that it belongs to the Bourguignons and no one else, so deal with it. Climat is the perfect oxymoron, a low and slow developed and yet truly miraculous occurrence, or perhaps a marvel but also forever etched in stone. It’s hard not to feel some trepidation when it sounds like preaching through a biblical voice because like the phrase that speaks to the Ten Commandments, the word implies that nothing else is as absolute and unalterable. In the case of Bourgogne it is owned because of 2,000 years of recorded history, thanks to the educated and the phrénique, of monks, farmers and intellectuals whose minds were connected to a feeling in the pit of their stomachs and to the earth below their feet. Climat keeps you, as it were, on your toes.

Chablis Left Bank, Bourgogne

It’s hard to imagine one word separating something so complex, multiple and diverse from everything else. In the English language “word” can be commensurate with the phrase “I speak the truth.” Climat may or may not have one single meaning, but in this univocal part of eastern France it is used to convey a collective sense of geographical affirmation, acknowledgement and agreement. It may also indicate that some special place has impressed a group of agriculturalists, viticulturalists and consumers so favourably that they would emphasize it as fixed and unchangeable. Farmers and winemakers can try to do the same elsewhere in the world but good luck coming up with a name or a term as precise, succinct or possessive of some semblance of equal meaning as Climat.

“Les Climats sont des parcelles de terre précisément délimitées”

Precisely defined parcels or plots of land. Another way of seeking a definition is to take the what not to do or not to think approach. It insists that Climat should not be misinterpreted. The notion is unrelated to meteorology but is a specific term unique to Bourgogne, designating a specific vineyard site. Bernard Pivot writes “in Bourgogne, when we speak of a Climat, we do not look up to the sky, we keep our eyes to the ground.” 

“Climat is the DNA of each wine

singuliers et multiples”

“Each Climat is a vine plot, with its own microclimate and specific geological conditions, which has been carefully marked out and named over the centuries. Each of them has its own story, produces wines with a distinct character and taste and keeps its own place in the hierarchy of crus (Regional Appellation, Village, Premier Cru, Grand Cru). Over one thousand named Climats extend along the 60 kilometres of the thin strip of vineyards running from Dijon to Santenay, just south of Beaune, and among them are some of the most famous names from the world of wine ; Chambertin, Romanée-Conti, Clos de Vougeot, Montrachet, Corton, Musigny…”

Bourgogne – Regional Appellations

It begins with the broadest of the Bourgogne appellations at the base of the pyramid with regional wines that are the rock and the platform upon which all Climats may stand. Included in this category we find Crémant De Bourgogne, Rouge et Blanc. I asked Laurent Drouhin of Domaine Joseph Drouhin “what does Climat mean to you?” His response. “First of all Climat is a name that is used exclusively in Bourgogne. A Climat to me refers to a specific location in Bourgogne which produces a wine with a unique character only found in that location. That is why in Bourgogne we highlight the name of the wine (Climat) more than the grape variety. I like to say there are thousands of Chardonnay produced in the world, there is only one Montrachet. A good example is the corner of four Climats which are next to each other and produce very different wines due to specifics in the soil and exposure. Montrachet/Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Caillerets/Batard Montrachet, Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Les Pucelles. Four fabulous wines, with incredible character and so different. Basically those four Climats are unique and vineyards are touching each others. Well, That is Bourgogne, That is Climat.” On his regional Bourgogne he told me this. “The Bourgogne Pinot Noir is a blend of several appellations from all over Bourgogne (around 13). So not a specific Climat. There is no vineyard designated as it is a blend of other declassified village level wines such as Macon Rouge, Ladoix, Maranges…. The wine is more of a melody which reflects the elegance and subtlety of the Pinot in Bourgogne.”

Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2015, AOC Bourgogne (512574, $24.95, WineAlign)

Dive straight into the regional generalization of Bourgogne with Drouhin as the conduit and the driver. Here is where you initiate with all the usual suspects; red cherries, earth and herbs. Done and done, right and proper. Drink 2017-2019.  Tasted November 2017  maisonjosephdrouhin  philippedandurandwines  @JDrouhin  @Dandurandwines  Joseph Drouhin  Philippe Dandurand Wines

Cedric Dechelette is the General Manager of Maison François Martenot, the company that includes Négociant and estate owner Moillard, along with sparkling wine producer Labouré Gontard. Dechelette has been involved in the Bourgogne wine trade for over 30 years.

Labouré Gontard Brut Rosé Crémant De Bourgogne, Traditional Method, AOC Bourgogne (460816, $20.95)

This blush Crémant is a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and aligoté. The base wines of the Crémant come from the different subdivisions of the Bourgogne vineyards. Their base wines however are predominantly produced from the vines of the Côtes and Hautes Côtes of Beaune and Nuits and the Côtes Chalonnaise. Different soils confer from limestone and marl in the Côtes de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune and Côtes Chalonnaise and granite in southern Bourgogne. The combing of Bourgogne from north to south delivers a true amassed regional expression for Bourgogne AOC, including such a broad, proper and creamy full Crémant like this Labouré Gontard. Feel the texture of layered terroir and note the blush citrus in its precise acidities. Drink 2017-2019.  Tasted November 2017  lgcf_paris  hhdwines  @HHDImports_Wine  Les Grands Chais De France  H.H.D. Imports Inc.

Domaine De Montille Bourgogne Blanc 2014, AOC Bourgogne (515692, $50.00)

Bourgogne Blanc was never so ambitious, Climat-driven, sober and meditative as this from first Hubert de Montille and today, son Étienne. From toy to bona-fide Bourgogne business, Montille takes regional purpose to the highest level it can afford and with the quest to age. The goal is set for complexity and tertiary aromas, whether Bourgogne AOC or Volnay Premier Cru Taillepieds. This Blanc is so very primary and even herbal, with a specific Bourgogne garrigue, owing to the presence of holly, a thorny scrub bush. The stuff is found in the Beaune vineyard Les Aigrots, from an old dialectical word, “Argifolium.” Texture is viscous, salve-like and peculiar as a result but nothing seven to 10 years couldn’t resolve. The sharp acidity would say the same. If drinking anytime soon it would be a good idea to decant. Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted November 2017  domainedemontille  @2Montille  Domaine de Montille

Bourgogne Village

The last example causes some wonder as to what may lay between regional Bourgogne AOC and Village level wines. Decanter Magazine just recently reported the announcement by the BIVB that there is in fact a new level of Bourgogne wines coming soon. The new Bourgogne Côte d’Or was inaugurated in Beaune just this past weekend and will be integrated as a Bourgogne Régionale AOC, not exactly a new appellation but it is the 14th regional Bourgogne AOC. Regulations will dictate vine density (9,000 plants per hectare as opposed to 5,000 at the regional level) and only Pinot Noir grapes can be used for the reds, from vines grown across all villages of the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, from south of Dijon to Maranges. Producers will be able to include grapes from young vines that would not necessarily be used in Village level wines. Prices should fall somewhere in between regional and Village and the new category “should be seen as the top of the regional pyramid, just below Village level,” according to Cécile Mathiaud of the BIVB.

Meanwhile long before the wine there were three geological phases; Quaternary, Tertiary and Jurassic, to set the landscape. During the latter period a shallow tropical sea covered what today is France. Major limestone and clay deposits were formed in a variegated mix that generally speaking runs from harder and more prevalent deposits (in the north) to friable, less regnant and heavier clay (in the south). Today in addition to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay there are Gamay and Aligoté. In Saint-Bris there is Sauvignon Blanc and in Irancy Pinot Noir can be blended with César. The investigation into this essential level of Bourgogne travels in and out of many hamlets and the precisely delineated vineyards associated with the parent village. A Climat is located in the Mâconnais, an outlier is found in Irancy, a not so common white in Marsannay, and an allowable lieu-dit noted on the label in Pouilly-Fuissé. More Village AOC examples are found in a Chablis of a Climat that is essentially Premier Cru, one of the best villages of the Côte de Nuits and the aforementioned Montrachet.

Louis Latour Mâcon Lugny Les Genièvres 2015, AOC Bourgogne (Agent, $23.95, WineAlign)

Latour’s lieu-dit Les Genièvres is a warm, rich and distinctly Mâconnais chardonnay, even in its surprising depth and richness for the appellation, coupled with the warmth of the vintage in delivery of terrific value for the money. Bourgogne for all the right reasons, most of all a food happy way to get satisfaction from and with chardonnay. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted October 2017  louislatour1797  markanthonyon  @LouisLatour1797  @MarkAnthonyWine  MaisonLouisLatour  @MarkAnthonyWine

Domaine La Croix Montjoie Irancy 2014, AOC Bourgogne (269414, $35.95, WineAlign)

From the outlier for pinot noir in Bourgogne, only Irancy tastes like this and carries such linear, in your face, interfaced structure. Irancy is found in the Grand Auxerrois region, on the right bank of the Yonne river, fifteen kilometres South of Auxerre and South-West of Chablis. Domaine La Croix Montjoie was created in 2009, named after a cross located at the intersection of Vézelay and Tharoiseau. This cross signals the spot where pilgrims coming from Avallon first caught sight of Vézelay and felt overjoyed. The domaine is led by a Bourgogne dream team; Sophie and Matthieu (agricultural engineering and oenologist), Thierry and Jean-Louis (farmers), Christophe and Hervé (vineyard workers). Their Irancy is firm, properly and effortlessly acetic in its rising tones. It’s dramatically bright, ripe, veering to darkening cherry and exhibits great tension. While tart, slightly lactic and quick to the punch it’s also peppery and crunchy. This northern pinot noir is blended with césar, a deeply hued variety of only five planted hectares in the Irancy appellation. It is said to have been brought to the area by the Roman legions. Mostly (75 per cent) aged in tank so the freshness steals the show with just enough structure to see five more years of firm pleasure ahead. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted several time May to October 2017  #domainelacroixmontjoie  beauwinespiritsake  @davidbeauroy  Domaine La Croix Montjoie – Vins de Vézelay  

Jadot’s winemaker Frédéric Barnier shed some fascinating insight on how he and his team deal with many different parcels. “As you know we are producing a large range of wines and are really focused on trying to reveal each place. To explain better we are trying to have the same process from a Village to Grand Cru (same ageing same cask same percentage of new oak). We want to show that a Meursault is not a Marsannay and not because we have made something special on the wine but just because they are different. For the Marsannay White, this wine is coming from a blend of three different plots we are farming. One of it is planted with Chardonnay Rosé which is pink but it lost the color after fermentation. It is a rare wine from Côte de Nuits. Most of Marsannay is red or a few rosé. 2011 is showing very well now. Whites are rich but still fresh from an early vintage picked on the very first days of September.”

Louis Jadot Marsannay 2011, AOC Bourgogne (522136, $41.95, WineAlign)

The rare and elusive Marsannay blanc is a fine and beautiful thing, laden with dry extract, intense grape tannin and the pure intensity of liquid limestone. It is here in this wine from the northernmost commune of the Côte d’Or where the idea of fruit and of chardonnay is just an afterthought because the sheer and non-mitigating saltiness of this stony Bourgogne is simply hypnotizing. This is a steal of great Village proportions. I would stack this up against many Premier Cru two and three times its price. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted November 2017  louisjadot  halpernwine  @ljadot  @HalpernWine  Louis Jadot    Halpern Wine

Kerrie de Boissieu, Oenologue at Château de Lavernette explains that “Climat is a vineyard designation.  It is the custom in Bourgogne to give names to parcels.  Today, those names mean very little to us personally but they do allow us to compile a history for each parcel and follow it better.  We have Pouilly-Fuissé vineyards in two different Climats: Maison du Villard & Vers Châne. There is no one named Villard in this area now and I don’t know where their house is or why the parcel carries their name. The parcel faces west – southwest so it captures the afternoon sun making it a more luminous wine – cheerful and easily approachable. Vers Châne means “towards Châne” The parcel faces east – southeast capturing the morning light.  It is a colder, stonier, more complex mistress that needs to be coaxed to cooperate. It is well worth the trouble though as it has a nicely chiseled structure and ages gracefully.” I asked Kerrie to comment on Château De Lavernette Vers Châne Pouilly Fuissé 2014, the wine and the vineyards. “This wine has always been our chouchou (favorite).  Xavier and I bought the vineyard in 2007.  It belongs to us and not to Château de Lavernette.  The first time we harvested the grapes was the day our son, Basile, was born and it made for a really exciting day.  There are two parcels divided by a row of peach trees (peches des vignes).  It is in an amphitheater protected by a forest on the northern side.  The soil is a rocky scree with limestone tumbling down from Les Rontets.  The wine seems to be marked by each of these elements: peach blossom, stone fruit, woodsy underbrush and saline minerality. Hand-picked, whole-cluster pressed, indigenous yeast, fermented and aged in Bourgogne oak barrels (228 L, 20% new) for 22 months.  

Château De Lavernette Vers Châne Pouilly Fuissé 2014, AOC Bourgogne (496372, $42.95, WineAlign)

The lieu-dit locale for Lavernette’s Pouilly-Fuissé is called “Vers Châne,” a chardonnay that might mean “down a silk road.” This is in fact a true expression of polished texture, a Pouilly-Fuissé warm and rich if decidedly linear-focused, with some real vanilla-tinged, toasty barrel notes. That the appellation speaks most truth when the combination of ripeness and smoulder are mixed and then married to the specific PF acidity (like preserved lemon), then reality bites. The smoky, flinty edge is a little over the edge but two years should help to soften, match with the downy texture and ultimately settle the score. Drink 2018-2021.  Tasted August and November 2017  #chateaulavernette  @NaturalVines  Château de Lavernette  

Domaine Oudin Chablis Les Serres 2014, AOC Bourgogne (WineAlign)

Just south of Chablis there are hilltop vineyards above and around the village of Chichée where Les Serres draws its superior fruit for what is ostensibly (though not labeled as such) Premier Cru. Jean-Claude and Christiane began here in 1988 and it is now Nathalie and Isabelle who use Les Serres old vines fruit (some up to 70 years) for this transcendent and worthy Chablis. Les Serres are “the greenhouses,” an apropos moniker for a wine that not only receives but gifts so much warmth and generous fruit without ever straying from its stony and salty roots. The texture here is above and beyond textbook for Premier Cru and elevated for the sharp vintage. So settled at this point it is just a pleasure to taste. Drink 2017-2026.  Tasted November 2017  #domaineoudin  vinsdechablis  @purechablis  #domaineoudin

When I asked Luc Bouchard which Climat most defines the notion for the estate he replied “from Bouchard estate we are very proud of the Climat of Beaune Grève Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, monopole of Bouchard since 1791, a unique terroir with gravely soil (unique in Beaune ). The roots go very deep into the soil (9 m), so if we have a very dry summer there is always enough water far below and if there is heavy rain storm, the drainage is so good that the water is not directly swallowed by the grapes. That explains the consistency of the wine, it’s unique texture and ageing potential.” On his Gevrey Chambertin 2015 he had this to say: “The 2015 vintage is a superb vintage; normal quantity and high quality from Bourgogne generic up to top Grand Cru. Gevrey is one of the best villages of the Côte de Nuits and our sourcing of grapes come from four different growers (from different locations too) that allow us to have a better representation of the appellation and a better balance. Gevrey 2015 shows a deep and intense garnet red colour, intense bouquet red fruit and a touch of gamey taste. Good structure and very nice balance, ripe tannins, with a long finish. Can be drunk from now (with good aeration before) and can be aged for five up to 10 years.”

Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey Chambertin 2015, AOC Bourgogne (661330, $59.95, WineAlign)

Bouchard’s 2015 is incredibly forward Gevrey Chambertin, full of fruit, flowers and a beautifully integrated red liquid chalky syrup. It’s just plain getable and is the godfather to all of its peers. If you want to show the world and everyone in it who knows or knows nothing about high-level Bourgogne then perhaps consider this to be the journey’s departure point. Gevrey and especially in the hands of Bouchard is such a gate for what it means to build pinot noir from the earth upwards. It explains what needs in a language you can understand and makes an offer you can’t refuse. Pour this every day simply because it is quintessentially ripe and structured stuff. Drink 2018-2026.  Tasted April and November 2017  bouchardpereetfils  woodmanws  @BouchardPere  @WoodmanWS  Bouchard Père & Fils  Woodman Wines & Spirits

Mont Chauve En Pimont Chassagne Montrachet 2012, AOC Bourgogne (496372, $67.95, WineAlign)

Still in a state of hyper reductive possibility this is an ambitious and beautifully calcareous Chassagne, full of deep lemony preserve and variegated waves of acidity. Though it breathes of some age development it is in fact a greatly structured chardonnay that will continue to benefit from further development. Where texture and complexity meet. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted October 2017  aupieddumontchauve  #BNDWines  Au Pied du Mont Chauve  Devon Masciangelo

In addition to running his own Domaine de Bellene and négoce Maison Roche de Bellene, Nicolas Potel has drawn upon some secret resources to deliver old wines made new again. His sourcing of older parcels from producers who somehow hid these top vineyard gems from the world is a gift of generous proportions. Ask Nicolas what he thinks about Les Climats and the hardest working man of leisure, diplomat and ambassador extraordinaire for the wines of Bourgogne will open up his heart and his mind. Says Potel, “the characteristics and Climats of every site and village are truly unique. To make a very good village wine, you need to ideally source grapes from south, central and northern areas of the village. This way it shows the full expression of the village for the vintage in question. Single vineyards based on identification of one site. Volnay is all about elegance. Nice tannin, structure and acidity with pure fruit character. The terroir in Volnay is always very transparent in the wine because of this elegance. What about Gevrey-Chambertin? Last February I tasted the 1999 Village and 2001 Premier Cru Petit Chapelle and today, the ’01 Village. Immediacy meets reflection to bring clarity into the light. This is a wonderful example of the beautiful relationship between producer, Village and Climat.

Roche De Bellene Gevrey Chambertin “Collection Bellenum” 2001, AOC Bourgogne (514430, $74.00, WineAlign)

Though time has exorcised some fining away of the more grainy and delicate texture of this Village level Gevrey Chambertin it hangs securely in the balance between youthful and aged. As a lovely mature pinot noir it should be considered as occupying space in the categorical order between Village and Premier Cru, once destined for greatness but now in the waning, twilight of its career. What happens in this space is a complex combination of cured red fruit, weighty earthiness, mushroom, truffle and dried herbs. All merely hints mind you so several years of life will persist to deliver further pleasure. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted November 2017  domaine_de_bellene  nicholaspearcewines  @RochedeBellene  @Nicholaspearce_  Bellene  Nicholas Pearce

Southwestern slope in Gevery Chambertin
photo (c) Scott Zebarth

What is Climat?

Our fiends at the Bureau Interprofessionnel des vins de Bourgogne (BIVB) have established the reference point for the written understanding of the true meaning of Climat. I posed the question of concept to several producers and négociants. Most pointed straight to the BIVB website for answers “Over the past 2,000 years, the Bourgogne winegrowing region has benefited from the experience of men and women, from the observation of the soil, and from the region’s unique microclimates. This has given rise to a patchwork of plots whose qualities have been identified and acknowledged: the Climats and lieux-dits. The Climats and lieux-dits give Bourgogne wines their unique identity. Their names bear witness to the region’s rich history. Their origins lie in the environment, local heritage, savoir-faire (know-how) and human history. The term Climat is unique to Bourgogne. It is the Bourguignon expression of the notion of terroir.”

“The Climats and lieux-dits are the ultimate expression of the notion of terroir. They guarantee the unique characteristics of each wine and offer an unrivaled taste experience. Climats are precisely delineated plots of land that enjoy specific geological and climatic conditions. When combined with human effort and translated through the two great Bourgogne varietals of Pinot Noir for reds and Chardonnay for whites, they give rise to an exceptional range of appellations that are classified according to quality and which enjoy international renownThe Climats confer their own unique organoleptic qualities onto the wines of Bourgogne, such as their appearance, aromas, flavours and texture.”

“exceptional range of appellations that are classified according to quality and which enjoy international renown…the result of the alchemy between men and women and the natural world”

“Some Climats were first referenced as far back as the 7th century, such as Clos de Bèze in Gevrey. For centuries, the reputation of Bourgogne wines was driven by the monks of Cîteaux, and then by the Dukes of Bourgogne. Some wines, such as Clos Vougeot and Montrachet, which bore the name of the Climat where they were grown, acquired a reputation that extended beyond French borders. In 1935, the National Institute for Origins and Quality (INAO), made official the usage of the word “Climat” and began using it in legal texts applying to all Bourgogne appellations, whatever their level of hierarchy. The Climats are a sign of excellence and on 4 July 2015, the Climats were included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lieux-dits are also plots recognized for their own topographic or historical specificities. Their precise geographical location is not registered by the INAO. A certain number of producers choose to feature the name of their lieu-dit on their labels, such as Pouilly-Fuissé, Le Clos Reyssié.”

Gevery Chambertin
photo (c) Scott Zebarth

Bourgogne Premier Cru

Les Climats are Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) defined vineyards or rather the DNA of the vineyards and the official term is specific to wine while the reference lieux-dits is an administrative one. While there are some who consider Climats as also relating to things atmospheric, the pragmatic consensus keeps the discernment ground into dejection depressions, alluvial fans and geological anomalies in an otherwise south by southwest set of exposure slopes for the best of Bourgogne wines. Still others would argue that while dirt makes an impact it is climate that inflicts the most drama on a wine but even more important than climate and soil, it’s the people who give the terroir its cultural identity. The notions of accumulate knowledge that can be transmuted from generation to generation is how each village has managed to produce a specific style of wine from vintage to vintage.

Four exceptional Bourgogne Premier Cru

Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey Premier Cru La Cailloute 2014, AOC Bourgogne (473793, $31.75, WineAlign)

Theulot Juillot’s is a Mercurey Premier Cru with a direct connection between Bourgogne and Ontario by way of the great region’s educator and ambassador Jean-Pierre Renard. Given and extra year in bottle  the form tannic grip has loosened, if only a lace or two while it continues to match fruit with umami. Persists in its display as one of the more over-performing reds from one of the most out performing villages in all of Bourgogne. Last tasted on several occasions, June-October 2017

From vines planted in 1979 and 1980, the crest of the ridge at 300m is a prized locale in Mercurey that sees fit to fresh, vibrant and structured pinot noir. The beautiful dichotomous relationship between ripe and juicy opposite firm and sweetly tannic is met in this functional Mercurey, a Premier Cru of upbeat excellence. Very representative of place because of the grip but it goes light years beyond the lithe and the under-performed. You could pour this for Burgundy label chasers and they would cry sweet Nuits St. Georges. Raspberry and strawberry with plenty of umami minerality and that firm tannin up the back. Really tempurpedic acidity never reacts and always supports. Theulot Juillot may suggest five to eight years of cellar time but this is a 10-15 year Mercurey. No fooling. Drink 2018-2029. Tasted September and October 2016  #domainetheulotjuillot  #domainetheulotjuillot  Jean-Pierre Renard

Louis Moreau

Louis Moreau studied oenology-viticulture at Fresno State University (California) before working in several vineyards across the state. In 1994, after eight years in the United States, he returned to France to take over the family business, succeeding his father Jean-Jacques. He then expanded his facilities to leverage the harvests yielded on 110 hectares comprising the family’s two estates, namely Domaine Louis Moreau and Domaine de Biéville. Today, Louis Moreau produces and markets Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru, with a focus on finding the best quality and respecting the environment. Since February 2016 Moreau has been the Vice-President, Commission Chablis of the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne.

Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2014, AOC Bourgogne (124362, $43.00, WineAlign)

Vaillons is drawn from sub-appellative blocks in Les Epinottes and Roncières, with some vines as old as 65 years and yields quite low for where concentration trumps quantity. Very rich and concentrated is indeed the mode here, with good mineral bled from stone and very little in terms of sour or lactic edges. This is amenable Vaillons to be sure. A purity subsists and solicits simple and non-specific pairings, like Dorado, Sea Bass or Magret de Canard. There is this amazing salinity that hints at iodine, lemon and lime, but I would not call it salty. I would call it really refined Chablis. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016 and several times May-October 2017  chablislouismoreau  louismoreauchablis  artisanal_wine_imports  @MoreauLouis1  Louis Moreau  @artisanalwineimports

“The word Climat is from Bourgogne and designates a viticulture terroir,” explains Megan McClune, Directrice at Domaine Jessiaume. “It is a certain piece of land, with vines, that is named, has a story and specific geological and climate conditions.  The Climat is the association of land, grape variety and craftsmanship. We strive to produce all of our wines so that each wine expresses where it comes from in the glass.  We produce three wines from one parcel of land in Auxey Duresses les Ecussaux. This definitely expresses the notion of Climat. Santenay Premier Cru Les Gravières is a very special piece of land.  We have a history of over a hundred years in this piece of land.  The soil is quite rocky and produces a wine with a peppery finish year in and year out.”

Domaine Jessiaume Santenay Premier Cru Les Gravières 2013, AOC Bourgogne (487488, $50.00, WineAlign)

Built in 1850, Domaine Jessiaume was purchased in 2007 and is owned and operated by the Scottish family Murray. Situated right at the gates of the important Côte de Beaune village of Santenay it comprises 37-plus acres, with large plots in Santenay, holdings in the Premiers Crus Auxey Duresses Les Ecusseaux and Volnay Les Brouillards and a section of Beaune les Cent Vignes vineyard. Les Garièvres is located at the northern end of the village, on the border with Chassagne-Montrachet. Jessiaume are indubitably Santenay specialists and the famous limestone, oolite and marl plot of Les Gravières (to which a new wall was recently added at its base) is interpreted beautifully bright, from cherry tones to cherry strength. The mesoclimate is fully realized in this sunny ’13 and the wine represents the heart and meat of Bourgogne, from that textbook bright fruit and back down to earth. It’s taut and nearly bracing, just a perfect example of a very specific and storied Climat. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted March and November 2017  domainejessiaume  beauwinespiritsake  @DmneJessiaume  Domaine Jessiaume  

Domaine Chanson Pernand Vergelesses Premier Cru Les Vergelesses 2013, AOC Bourgogne (227199, $66.95, WineAlign)

South of the hill of Corton is where Chanson owns five-plus hectares in Vergelesses, the most famous Premier Cru that gave its name to the village of Pernand. You can feel the lower slope heavy clay but also the upper stones, first in power, grip and texture and then through a liquid red chalky streak. Pernand from the Celtic, “the (spring) source that is lost” and Vergelesses from the Middle French verge, meaning “rod,” a reference to the parcel’s long shape. It is a name which dates back to when Charlemagne owned vines on the Montagne de Corton. Just coming into its zone around now after the toast, grilling notes and calculous grittiness have begun to soften and fade. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted February and November 2017  domainechanson  @domainechanson  Domaine Chanson  John Hanna & Sons Ltd.

Premier Crus of Chablis, Montrachet, Mercurey and Nuits-St.-Georges

Domaine Louis Max Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru Les Damodes 2014, AOC Bourgogne (469080, $94.00, WineAlign)

Here is an outsanding Nuits Saint Georges from a marl and limestone vineyard just a stone’s throw from Vosne-Romanée. Les Damodes sings a northern NSG song and its ladylike name carries a legend that tells of fairies inhabiting the rocky landscape. The formations looked like tall ladies in long dresses, “les dames hautes,” or “damaudes,” then “damodes.” The vines in the furthest northeastern block north and east of the village look to the east and the soils are poor so the expectation elicits a thoughtfulness to solicit tension and finesse. That it does, first from a stony-lime-pomegranate-red cherry purity and then a fineness of acidity meets tannic honesty. Domaine Louis Max holds widely in Bourgogne, in Mercurey and Rully, as well as the south of France estates of Château Pech-Latt in Corbières and Domaine la Lyre in Côtes-du-Rhône. Les Damodes is a perfect example of a larger, modern-day producer making a small, site-specific Premier Cru from a storied piece of land. Drink 2018-2028.  Tasted several times, May to October 2017  #domainelouismax  Louis Max

Marchand Tawse Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Champ Gain 2014, AOC Bourgogne (470112, $114.00, WineAlign)

Champ Gain is located in the northern reaches of Puligny-Montrachet, above Les Folatières, edging off the eastern slopes of Mont-Rachet and in between the appellations of Saint-Aubin and Meursault. It’s essential perch on the rump of the mountain at 350m lends a perfect south-east exposure. The soil is highly variegated, even for Bourgogne, with friable and broken clay-limestone littered with pebbles and stones. A classic élevage of 18 months in (25 per cent) new wood delivers an archetypal if texturally modern Puligny. The name is simply “field reclaimed by the forest,” which separates itself from no other vineyard in the region but one Premier Cru‘s “gain field” is another’s “perdre la forêt.” What really distinguishes Pascal Marchand’s Champ Gain is texture, not just in how it glides, caresses and layers but in how it ties up its laces so taut, tight and in the end it’s an impenetrable Bourgogne. The force field around its fruit is a pure mineral tide that is yet to ebb and flow. It’s coming soon though, despite the crackerjack vintage that elevates the entire gain. Drink 2018-2026.  Tasted several times May to October 2017  marchand_tawse  moraytawsewine  burgundy_direct_imports  @MARCHANDTAWSE  @MorayTawse  @Burgundy_Direct  Marchand-Tawse  

Bourgogne Grand Cru

Historically speaking, when did this omniscient term Climat switch to the wine business? It may have origins and or co-existence in the Jura, but it is definitely a word that belongs to that part of eastern France. So why is or better yet, when did Bourgogne become the birthplace of terroir? We know it to be a matter of nature and people, both of which need time, hope and literacy to transmit information. You need place and you need monks. Record keeping, true delineation of land and the erecting of the walled in vineyards (Les Clos) really began after the monks were handed down the torch from the Celts and the Romans.

Between the 15th century and the French Revolution the vineyards began to be divided up and the notion of Climat emerged. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the ranking of Climats and terroir. Regulations were introduced during the 20th century. The word “Clymat” appeared for the first time in Chablis in 1540 and then again in 1584 in a document about the Clos de Bèze. The first mentions of Climats in this sense were recorded by Abbot Arnoux in 1728 when he described the vines of the “côte.” The movement to define and spread the word about the Climats led to the first classifications of the vineyards, by André Jullien in 1819, Dr. Denis Morelot in 1831 and Dr. Jules Lavalle in 1855. The names of the villages on the côtes was added to the name of their most famous Climat, with the first being Gevrey-Chambertin in 1847.

The first protection systems were introduced:  The laws of 1905, 1919 and especially 1935, which defined the notion of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. In 1944, the names of the Climats classified as Premiers Crus were added to the decrees for Village appellations. On July 4, 2015 the term Climat was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Aubert De Villaine, President of the Association for this inclusion said “nowhere else has the quest for harmony between a wine and the place it is produced been as subtle and sophisticated as in the Bourgogne region with the Climats. The Bourgogne region has a universal value.”

Didier Séguier of Domaine William Fèvre

Domaine William Fèvre can be used as an ideal example of a launch point from where control is transferred from the operating system to the process and ultimately, the programmer. That would be winemaker Didier Séguier, he who takes a calm ferment and squeezes out its vital juices to render Chablis with all the attributes it has come to define. Séguier the winemaker is a generous fellow, a giver of Chablis, gift-wrapping kimmeridgian-affected fruit in 50 per cent oak and tank equality for all his Grand Cru.

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru 2015, AOC Burgundy, France (641381, $130.00, WineAlign)

Fèvre’s Les Clos takes a bit of an unexpected turn so from 2015 it currently goes stone cold and remains intensely locked. From what we know the vintage should be generous from the start but in this instance Les Clos makes use of every ounce and fibre of kimmerridgian being to lay only salt, fossil and stone before you. The fruit kept hidden away makes you pine for fleshy orchard apples. Nothing can really prepare you for the Les Clos iron gate, especially when you were expecting a welcome mat laid out at your feet. Take the time to charm and be charmed, at least 15 minutes with a glass or 15 years if you can offer up the time. The Grand Cru will slowly open up and speak in a vernacular of controlled energy, fineness of acidity and exceptional balance. This will be one for the ages.  Drink 2021-2035. Tasted April 2017  williamfevre_chablis  woodmanws  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS  @domainewilliamfevre  Woodman Wines & Spirits

The greatest pleasure to welcome Jean-Pierre Renard and Nelly Blau of @vinsdebourgogne to Toronto.

The only true intrinsic reality gained through a discussion about Climat is accessed by the tasting and assessment of examples that represent a full cross-section of Bourgogne. The appellations of Chablis et du Grand Auxerrois, Côtes de Nuits and Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Côtes de Beaune and Hautes Côtes de Beaune, Côtes Chalonnaise and Couchois, the Macônnais and the Châtillonnais are best understood by comparative studies of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from regional Bourgogne to Village and through Premier and Grand Cru wines. With more than 100 appellations (84 officially recognized) it would take a lifetime and then some to cover them all and several more to come to grips with the very specific meanings and interpretations of their personalized Climats. By that time the moving target would change so much that starting again would be the only option. Make the most of the time there is, which is the way of the Bourguignons.

If you are looking for an answer as to why Bourgogne wines are so expensive, subscribe to the following idea. If to you unadulterated Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, respected producers and Climat mean anything at all then the Bourgognes are worth the price, if only because they are the rarest group of wines on the planet. Consider the region sixty kilometres in length, with 28,715 hectares under vine split up into thousands of different plots. Each are tiny by comparison with most of the rest of the world’s identified terroirs. We can’t all afford Bourgogne but at every level the quality is reflective of the cost. Truly. We can however search for terrific value in the multitude of villages where quality has improved dramatically in recent times. Names like Chablis, Montagny, Saint-Véran, Mercurey and Santenay are but a handful. All of Bourgogne waits for you.

Sources

https://www.bourgogne-wines.com/

https://www.climats-bourgogne.com

http://www.decanter.com/

Chambertin Clos de Beze photo
(c) Scott Zebarth

Good to go!

Godello

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign

Chablis Premier Cru by Cru

Chariot de Fromages at Le Bourgogne, Auxerre

Chariot de Fromages at Le Bourgogne, Auxerre

Chablis Premier Cru is a multi-faceted, varied and wondrous thing. The interlocking complexity of its many defined micro-terroir parts weaves a tapestry specific to Burgundy and dares to be easily understood. Trying to get to know Premier Cru Chablis lies somewhere between the iconic and the psychotic. It’s like stabbing at clouds, understanding French by way of Greek from Latin, attesting meteorological inclination, grasping at amorphousness. It’s a slippery, discreet and humble secret. Nobody can get a grip on it. Many have tried and others believe they have succeeded. Only the winemaker in Chablis can really intuit the nuances of climats and cru, but even then, the learning curve is boundless and endless.

Related – Chablis got soil

The relationship between grower, producer and land in Chablis is entirely familial. The master considers and treats the land, vines and grapes with great respect. The farms are totems and the wines amulets, blessed with the power ascribed to protect their owners from danger or harm, but also possessive of poised intelligence. The clarity of this becomes increasingly true with enough time spent with the Premier Cru.

Last week I published 76 notes covering all the Petit Chablis and Chablis AOC wines I have tasted going back to my visit in Burgundy last July. It’s now time to move forward, upwards and deep into the Premier Cru. This appellation is comprised of 40 climats, “a place where vine cultivation is attested for a very long time” and each commune or hamlet within the appellation has one or more main climats, the name of which may be applied to the other Premier Cru climats in that commune. There are 17 main, “flag-bearing” climats. Each are defined by their particular soil, aspect, geological and climatic conditions and the way they are farmed. The communes are located in Beine, Chablis, La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, Chichée, Courgis, Fleys, Fontenay-près-Chablis, Fyé, Maligny, Milly and Poinchy. In this appellation, the words Premier Cru and/or the name of the climat of origin may be added to the name Chablis for wines grown on Premier Cru plots.

Premier Cru Climats photo (c) http://www.chablis-wines.com/

Premier Cru Climats
photo (c) http://www.chablis-wines.com/

Vins de Bourgognes tells us “no French wine-growing area has pinned its faith more firmly on the facts of geology. The main substrate is Jurassic limestone (specifically, Kimmeridgian limestone) laid down some 150 million years ago. The rock contains deposits of tiny fossilized oyster shells which remind us that Bourgogne once lay beneath a warm ocean. Regarding the Premier Cru, the particularity is that they are produced on either side of the Serein River (left bank and right bank). The most famous climats are those on the right bank, surrounding the Grand Cru.”

Related – Paradox in Chablis

Porc, de la ferme de Clavisy grillé au Bintoyan, sauce acqua pazza (coquillage, tomates, olives, câpres...) Restaurant L'Aspérule, Auxerre

Porc, de la ferme de Clavisy grillé au Bintoyan, sauce acqua pazza (coquillage, tomates, olives, câpres…) Restaurant L’Aspérule, Auxerre

If you are searching for definitive information on the micro-terroirs of Chablis you need look no further than the governing board’s website which may just be the best in the business. Precise, critically-pinpointing information awaits. The pages will tell you all you really need to know. Jean Paul Droin is “a winemaker with a passion for history” and has researched the possible origins of the names of the various Climats of Chablis. His findings are presented here.

Related – Looking for Chablis in Ontario?

The following 92 reviews cover all the Premier Cru tasted in Chablis and Auxerre back in July of 2016 and also those I have assessed in the months since. Thanks to @purechablis  @vinsdechablis  @BourgogneWines and @vinsdebourgogne

chablis-1er-cru-left

Left Bank

Montmains

(Butteaux, Forêts)

Domaine Des Malandes Chablis Premier Cru Montmains Vieilles Vignes 2014, Burgundy, France (SAQ 11094760, $39.25, WineAlign)

This Malandes Montmains from old vines (aged 55-60 years on average) carries the most fruit of any in a flight of Left Bank Premier Cru that is not directly attributed to citrus. Truly amenable chardonnay, juicy, replete in absolute faith to the delicacies of Chablis, as a wine raised healthy and fleshy from enough but not egregious barrel. The kind of Chablis laid ripe and ready to swim alongside the whole fish, preferably off the grill, with citrus and herbs to balance to fullness and the gravity. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016    @TrialtoQC

Domaine Jean Paul Et Benoît Droin Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2014, Burgundy, France (SAQ 11678845, $44.75, WineAlign)

Benoît Droin’s Montmains is a far right expression of a Left Bank terroir out of which other producers often allow fruit to trump mineral. Benoît’s take is less about orchard and stone fruit and more into the flint meets acid and mineral Montmains. The layers of tart and mineral are nothing if not exceptional, pulsating and full of nervous energy. Here we find a son’s departure from a father’s winemaking ways, away from the barrel and into the steely, nearly blinding light, but clearly expressing the singular chardonnay effects off of kimmeridgian terroir. A Montmains to wait for and allow to age. Drink 2018-2023.  Tasted July 2016

tremblay

Vincent Tremblay

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

The Tremblay presents a real wet and briny oyster shell Montmains plus some favourable generosity, forest aromatics and a solid construct of medium weight and intensity. Of the five Premier Cru poured by Vincent Tremblay this is the calmest Chablis of the crew. A meditative and restorative Montmains of sheer afternoon delight. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  

La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2014, Burgundy, France (265090, $32.95, WineAlign)

Montmains from Chablisienne concentrates on the sub-climat of Butteaux, a generally guaranteed Left Bank strength and from a proportion that comes off of argileux soil. Skips over the oily pungency of 2013 and reprises the form and formality of 2012. Ships by bateaux an even more striking Chablis with the leesy sweet nose only Butteaux-Montmains affords, encouraged and developed for richesse. Once again the palate pulses with lemon-lime juiciness, more depth and richness and of course, so bloody piercing. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

From #chablis to #i4c16 see you in #niagara @coolchardonnay @DomaineLaroche

From #chablis to #i4c16 see you in #niagara @coolchardonnay @DomaineLaroche

Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 13047641, $38.75, WineAlign)

Montmains from Laroche and winemaker Gregory Viennois comes off of the Left Bank from a great wide open valley of wide open spaces. The soil is heavier in clay than just about any Premier Cru and that sweeping vastness solicits solar vulnerability. Montmains can solarize early, be quick to put on excess wait and difficult to avoid oxidative tendencies. Canopy management and picking time is key. In 2014 Augedond brings fruit in wonderful balance to seek and find such great salinity and tingling briny obfuscation. This is where Montmains heads to a tart that is tense, intense and even a bit terse. And so this is direct strike Chablis with supporting flesh. Such a vital and long elixir. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @DomaineLaroche  @SelectWinePros

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Montmains Chablis Premier Cru 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (405704, $34.95, WineAlign)

First tasted at the domain with Romain Collet. From 40 year-old vines on mostly white calcaire stony soil and how can you not taste it?! Classic and expected in every way, by Collet, in Montmains, for Chablis. Mostly mineral, somewhat smoky-flinty, by spontaneous fermentation (as with all of Collet’s Chablis) and just a fine thread of fruit clarity. Chablis the way it has to be, leaning back in traditional time but rendered with 21st century clean purity. No surprises and zero waver from the proper and the norm. Well-priced for the specific, direct and always white rock-led Premier Cru. Every Chablis lover should try this at least once. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted July and November 2016  

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (977587, $50.00, WineAlign)

The Montmains Domaine 2014 on Chablis’ Left bank is tethered from three and a half hectares split into three plots, facing southeast. It combines kimmerridgian and marl soils and sees 30 per cent in oak. More richness and full bodied palate to texture compendious behaviour seems inverted or contradictory to 2013, as if the wines were switched at birth. But this is the irony of Montmains, always offering a view to Chablis as a whole and making cause for constant second guessing. Or perhaps it’s the game played by winemaker Didier Séguier, to make use of vintage and wood in ways to subvert and throw fruit-mineral contradictions on its head. Then again, here is Chablis without batonnage so nary a pastille melt, no cream or fat. Lengthens from purity with just a slight bit of almond, without bitter, or butter. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_   @WoodmanWS

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (977587, $50.00, WineAlign)

Montmains by Fèvre in 2013 is Chablis incarnate, a clear portrait in reveal of a non-obliterated view to the depth of the Premier Cru. Though we are once again discussing and assessing the misunderstood and often questionable vintage, Fèvre-consistency and confidence renders moot the trials. This Montmains is both portal and interior laid bare. Resolved and pourable, chardonnay as it is spoken in this cru is ready before it is born. Here the fruit is handled with Premier Cru poise, protracted beyond its borders so that it represents Chablis as a mechanism larger and axiomatic as a whole. The rocks never lie. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted April 2015  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Pascal Bouchard Chablis Premier Cru Montmains Vieilles Vignes 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (374181, $36.95, WineAlign)

This was tasted at #14c16. As with 2011 but in contrast to 2012, the limestone stands chalky and flinty up front because Pascal Bouchard has allowed it to do so. The site is windy, not so steep and a cooler sort of red clay mixed in terroir. Quite typically energetic 2013 with the mineral sharing the stage with thick air whiffing gassy and atmospheric. It’s a tang that comes from cool metals and it pours or rather oozes with a squeeze of preserved lemon. The Montmains is an open-minded Premier Cru and this Bouchard works with the climat’s malleability to be transformed in a vintage like ’13. Drink 2016-2019. Tasted July 2016

descending-substratum-dans-la-cave-chablisbrocard-kimmeridgian-portlandian-calcaire

Descending substratum dans la cave @chablisbrocard #kimmeridgian #portlandian #calcaire

Butteaux

Patrick Piuze Chablis Premier Cru Les Butteaux 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 12936615, $67.50, WineAlign)

Butteaux with Patrick Piuze stands apart not just from other readings but also independent and aside from his own separate Premier Cru dealings. This Butteaux feels a bit more boozy which is not a vintage surprise, nor is it when you consider the cru and its ability to deliver both texture and gastronomy. The chunks of limestone and chalky topsoil get in here like mineral syrup emulsified into grape extract with a Piuze variegation that subdues both aromatics and linear acidity. This Montmains sub-divided Chablis instead plays with length and focuses on presence, delivering successes on both ends. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis Premier Cru Les Butteaux 2010, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 12936615, $67.50, WineAlign)

After tasting through 18 2015s Patrick Piuze travels back in time and pulls this Butteaux as his choice for 2010, despite no label but identified by its cork. The sub-climat of Montmains is notable for its variegated character, tang upon tang, density folded into density, tart on tart. It is a fascinating look into the rear-view Piuze mirror from a terrific vintage and a time when he couldn’t yet have fully known what this terroir could do. The citrus is pure, intense and still in demand of attention. Though the window is clearly open it would not surprise to see this drink with similar personality for yet another few eye and palate-popping years. Yet another example of Premier Cru Chablis with ambitious aspirations and a seeker of Japanese inspired Bourgogne cuisine. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (294165, $46.95, WineAlign)

Another side by side 2015 to 2014 comparison which is a brilliant play by Mr. Julien Brocard to offer up a sense of relativity which is essential for understanding not just his, but all Chablis. Great freshness and woven salinity, brine and umami, from the lieu-dit within the greater Montmains climat. Butteaux’s western Montmains locale is one of major importance and significance, stratified and magnified in the crazy good 2014 vintage. The fight concentration is quite remarkable and rendered into pure citrus honey in the hands of Brocard. Really fine and tactile Chablis, tapestry textured, dentil frieze entablature of feigning and palpability. Butteaux is a wine of sun, balance and elegance from which ancient geology is the catalyst to make it all happen. Essential Chablis right here. Drink 2017-2027.  Tasted September 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

collet-butteaux

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Collet first began separating Butteaux from the larger Montmains Premier Cru in the 2009 vintage. Élevage in the obscurity of 2013 came with a significant amount of reduction and Collet did more with Butteaux than so many others could not out of almost any climat. The use of five to 10 year-old barrels has rendered a pretty and elegant Chablis, unheard of in ’13 and while it lacks the drive of ’12 or the acidity of ’14 it is more typical and just plain delicious without any tropical meanderings. Classic Chablis character is discernible albeit in lighter and more demurred tones. The acidity elevates fruit into the preserved kind, part lemon, part leek confit and part courgette pickle. Butteaux in 2013 is gastronomic, like bottled condiments and will ramp up a great piece of fish. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  

Forêts

Patrick Piuze Chablis Premier Cru Forêts 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

It would be impossible to discuss Patrick Piuze and Forêts without bringing Vincent Dauvissat into the fray. To Piuze, Vincent is mentor, friend and benefactor. The fruit for Patrick’s ferment comes from Dauvissat’s domain and similarly in new blood’s hands it breathes the way only Forêts can, “with the confidential creak of oak, in the Dauvissat way.” Vincent’s quite politesse in Patrick’s care puts on confident airs, beneath the moon and with parallel lines drawn in a classically sharp but creamy Chablis. The balance struck between grace and tension is a performance only few from this special corner of Montmains learn to craft. Success in 2015 once again, with the best yet to come. Drink 2018-2026.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Patrick Piuze Chablis Premier Cru Forêts 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Patrick Piuze gains a whiff of his ’13 Forêts. “Hmm, like a riesling.” No other winemaker in Chablis is as honest as Piuze when it comes to extolling or denouncing the virtues of the vintage. “Like a virgin,” is what I begin to hum, “touched for the very first time.” And for the first time in 20 Piuze wines I consider chardonnay because this does not resemble it, but in a way that the rest do not. Forêts here is gassy, aerified, unusual, full of strange atmosphere and just plain atypical. Oh, Madonna this ’13 “made it through the wilderness” in spite of the weirdness, with enough citrus and mineral impression because, well, it’s still Chablis. “Cause only love can last.”  Drink 2016-2017. Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Domaine Testut Chablis Premier Cru Forêts 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineryWineAlign)

Forêts is a steely patron of the larger Left Bank Montmains Premier Cru and lies situationally between Butteaux and Montmains proper. Testut treats the mineral-rich fruit pulled from 70 year-old vines by doing it up in demi-muids. Forêts stands alone in its bifid interpretation of Chablis; it forges a hyperbolic relationship with the wisdom and the concentrated intensity of the old vines. The ripeness in the Testut ’15 is echoed while the minerality is amplified. Like climbing a hill by switchbacks and circumventing trails, Cyril Testut’s Forêts cuts angles and elongates the path. This Chablis is linear but with round fruit and presents a fascinating dichotomy. The citrus is different, in a way a form of umami in flavour and the tartness is very frank. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Les Forêts 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Les Forêts offers great contrast to Montmains but it’s not so direct and easy to compare. Perhaps the most enigmatic, mysterious and magical of all the Left Bank terroirs, in Romain Collet’s hands it bleeds less white stone but is conversely more piercing. With 10 per cent having slept in new barriques for 17 months you would think creamy and gossamer textured but then you would also know why Collet does this with Forêts. It both controls and also elevates the acidity onto a higher, astral Premier Cru plane. And so this elects as pure, unadulterated snow-driven Chablis, with a textural addendum thanks to the oak. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016  

but-these-hosts-with-benjamin-and-stephanie-laroche-lamanufacture

With Benjamin and Stephanie Laroche, La Manufacture

La Manufacture Premier Cru Chablis Forêts 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 13133232, $43.00, WineAlign)

From the sub-climat of Montmains, this second vintage for la Manufacture is harvested earlier than the Beauroy and Vau Ligneau. Laroche’s Forêts is the first 2013 to not display the gaseous, atmospheric Chablis that has come from that vintage. Benjamin convinced his growers to wait, despite the rain, to compromise some quantity for quality. A risk taken but not a grand risk. The barrel took in 25 per cent of the fruit to round out Chablis’ edges while retaining its inherent acidity. Certainly one of the most balanced Premier Cru 2013s it seems, to date. Fuller than many but without blowsy hot air, or density. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

Vaillons

(Les Lys, Beugnons, Séchet, Les Minots, Les Roncières)

Domaine Barat Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

The vintage can’t hide in Barat’s Vaillons, noted first in a warm, boozy run of the nose, wildy floral and willy-nilly as per the flaunting cru perspective. The palate takes the baton and sprints further, deeper into lanes of ancillary luxury, honeyed, nearly tropical territory. This here is the biggest of the Vaillons, athletic, fast, rippling and perspiring from the summer swelter. Note the maple, apple and nectarine. Enjoy this opiate-edged, vintage-deemed Vaillons while the fruit shines with  sun-shining delight. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  

a-preview-of-a-much-needed-friendly-vintage-with-sebastien-dampt-alors-remycharest

A preview of a much needed, friendly vintage with Sébastien Dampt. Alors, @remycharest

Sébastien Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2015, Burgundy, France (Agent, Quebec $40.86, WineAlign)

Tasted with Sébastien Dampt at the domaine, from 60 year-old vines a Vaillons so very early in its development, bottled two weeks ago, reductive and trying with yeoman effort to preserve freshness. The vintage demands such an emperor’s excess of style, to foster the adage of “this is ancient Chablis in new clothing.” Really just that. Very much a rich and creamy washed rind stylistic happening with lemon preserve and a tonic not really yet seen. Vaillons aperitif. There is the semblence vermouth in here. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @SebastienDampt  @LesVieuxGarcons

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (650804, $31.95, WineAlign)

L’élevage for Vaillons is 15 months, at first with more stainless steel fermentation (95 per cent) than the other Premier Cru. What follows is one third stainless, foudres and barriques. Examples tasted show that Vaillons has the ability to go big, to acquire added corporeal layers of sweet and creamy. It has been seen to drift into apéritif territory without stimulating the appetite. Even in an acidity-led vintage like 2014. Case in point here, a Vaillons with herbal qualities and one in which the wood is very much a part of the highly sapid personality. Needs a year to integrate. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted at the domain with Romain Collet, July 2016  

Domaine Jean Paul Et Benoît Droin Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2014, Burgundy, France (SAQ 11678925, $47.75, WineAlign)

Vaillons from Benoît Droin, like that of his Mont de Milieu and Montée de Tonnerre receives 25 per cent barrel fermentation and maturation though a negligible amount of new oak is used. For this reason the Vaillons is so very flint and and smoke-driven, intense of aromatic liquor, compression and drama. It is the epitome of Chablis rendered in strength from remarkable drive and line-centric forward movement. Look ahead two years to a point of early evanescence where cantata and flesh collide. The hegira for Droin’s Vaillons begins there. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (330175, $39.95, WineAlign)

Composed from several lieu-dit in the Cru; Les Minots, Roncieres and two parcels each of high solar-powered Chatains and Sécher. A rounder, softer, fuller expression by sun and out of the open-mindedness provided by exposure. Here the house accentuation from stainless steel helps to preserve freshness and keep it at the maximum. A committal success in 2014 for a vintage that demands acidity and freshness, here buoyed by decisions and understanding. Exemplary Vaillons of lemon with a shot of lime injection. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @Billaud_Simon

domaine-long-depaquit

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (19364, $34.95, WineAlign)

Immediacy from the specific stony soil of Vaillons, unmistakable, of tang in impression and such a broad mouthfeel. The presence of Vaillons is nearly always noble, sumptuous, modish and sensual. Extract and tannin are very much a part of the program. Ten per cent of the take saw time in oak, lending an ingrained smack of spice. I would not exactly call it lavish though it is certainly a Vaillons surfeited with fruit, sun and stone. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @Matth_Mangenot  

Domaine Testut Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineryWineAlign)

Cyril Testut’s Vaillons 2014 has just been two months in bottle so there is some inhibition, shocky reserve (though miles from reduction) and a certain force field guarding. Try as I might to crack the stony shell I am repeatedly faced with structure taut, tight, rigid and not yet open for business. There is orange blossom and other white florality waiting to bloom and of course so much mineral wanting to burst. Vaillons is yet another tart and wisely mature-directed Testut. It needs a year to open and solicit audience participation. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (991893, $36.95, WineAlign)

In many ways a carbon copy of the superb 2012, herbal, sharp and as predicted, saline and piquant. Vaillons is a special parcel, a climat with such linear reality and basic, factual raison d’être. The Kimmeridgian, calcareous clay and limestone is presented, discussed and celebrated for good reason because it makes for perfect conditions in Vaillons.
The 40-45 year-old Laroche parcel sucks it all in and don’t let anyone evince you away from or de-program you otherwise. Be the mineral. Vaillons of old vines (yes, they too work magic) that is precise, trenchant and miles beyond merely dependable. Treated to some battonage and very minimal oak. Examines the layered intensity of Laroche and the exceptionality of Vaillons. Tasted twice, at Domaine Laroche and at #i4c16. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @DomaineLaroche  @SelectWinePros

Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Vieilles Vignes Les Vaillons 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (991893, $36.95, WineAlign)

Gorgeous and wealthy Chablis of all that makes this unparalleled style of Chardonnay tick. Flinty, struck stone entry, vineyard hyperbole of mineral and the geology of ancients. Lithe, lifted, lightness of being but always brought back down by the minerality. Some flavour density by way of old vines wisdom and persistence that just won’t stop going. Superb quality. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted January 2016  @DomaineLaroche  @SelectWinePros

Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2014, Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Vaillons is drawn from sub-appellative blocks in Les Epinottes and Roncières, with some vines as old as 65 years and yields quite low for where concentration trumps quantity. Very rich and concentrated is indeed the mode here, with good mineral bled from stone and very little in terms of sour or lactic edges. This is amenable Vaillons to be sure. A purity subsists and solicits simple and non-specific pairings, like Dorado, Sea Bass or Magret de Canard. There is this amazing salinity that hints at iodine, lemon and lime, but I would not call it salty. I would call it really refined Chablis. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @MoreauLouis1

a-kimmeridgian-breakfast-williamfevre_-chablis-bivbchablis-woodmanwines

A #kimmeridgian breakfast @williamfevre_ #chablis @BIVBChablis #woodmanwines

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $53.99, WineAlign)

Vaillons lies at the heart of the Domaine stylistic, from an entirely different sort of valley than Montmains but still facing southeast, certainly steeper (25 degrees) and early maturing. The three and a half hectares farmed in the Fèvre holdings are split into 10 plots and in 2014 picking was altered from the past 15 years’ norm, on and around the 20th of September. Adjudication through acumen deals a cooler 2014, of more herbiage, less piercing citrus and mineral but more pure fruit layers and also rounder for Chablis. There is more calm in these here Vaillons hills, despite or perhaps with thanks to the early picking. Later would have resulted in real winter fat. What ponder there is will step aside and the mineral will emerge up to and after five years. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $53.99, WineAlign)

Here Vaillons of breadth to speak on behalf of the whole cru and the cru as a whole. The layering of expected Vaillons flinty-smoky struck stone is toned down, elastic and a bit flat-lined. Texture is the key to a Vaillons heart in 2013, especially considering the automatic nature of the aromatics. Personality is subdued relative to other Fèvre Domaine crus but mineral concentration is still a vital thing. Check the palate and that texture to bring this quiet one to life and to find the nuggets of fruit treasure buried within. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted April 2015  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Séchet

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Séchet 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Séchet is a formidable climat at the head of the Vaillons slope near the town of Chablis and needs to be coddled or it can be one tough cookie. Romain Collet employs 30 per cent new oak in 2014, requisite because of and for the humanity of it all. To taste this in the summer of 2016 is to drive south to Beaune, with bits of nuts and pats of butter smearing the flinty fruit like a galette under a rich almond glaze. The mask is painted thick at present but structure makes for length and with acidity vibrant and variegated this Séchet will nigh carry its popcorn and vanilla all the way to the next decade bank. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016  

Beugnons

Sébastien Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Beugnons 2015, Burgundy, France (Agent, Quebec $44.78, WineAlign)

From the Beugnons parcel within the Vaillons, raised entirely in concrete egg, the third vintage as such, for micro-oxidation. Gently ushered along with a very light and slow batonnage. Perfumed like lemon in concrete (reminding me of Terra Alta’s Domaine Lafou garnaxta blanca, or vice versa) and luminescent like brilliant gemstone, rich but of such gorgeous control. The round acidity envelopes discernible fruit (it’s 2015 after all) and just a hint of spice. That said it is still found to be a bit closed down and minutely austere at this stage but age will not suffer as a result. Again the vintage is kept at bay with freshness and elongation. There were 2100 bottles made (as per the size of the egg). Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @SebastienDampt  @LesVieuxGarcons

Les Lys

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Lys 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 10278920, $40.00, WineAlign)

An achievement in the richer style of Vaillons Premier Cru, broad and expansive, not entering the cortex with overarching acidity but rather good host invitation. A Bichot Burgundian stylistic really shows in Les Lys, not so much a wood attack but the lees and fullness is certainly felt. Acidity is late and round, encompassing and caressing. A softer 2014 and a good foil to other, sharper, more piercing brethren. Kept in 100 per cent stainless steel to preserve the acidity and the freshness. Even in 2014 this was necessary, for freshness and elegance. Certainly showing the most lifted and modern of the three Premier Cru on this day. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @Matth_Mangenot  

La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Les Lys 2014, Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

La Chablisienne’s Les Lys from within Vaillons is codicillary to north by northwest exposure and later ripening. Flat out a wine of strength, urged linear and forward by high levels of kimmeridgian rock, inspiring and generating power and richness. The citrus here is so concentrated and also developed. Time stops and with great length there is just this. Les Lys. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Les Lys 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (76984, $51.00, WineAlign)

Les Lys is perhaps the most particular, focused and pinpointed terroir of the Fèvre Domaine Premier Cru. Located in the Vaillons Valley as a sub-climat of the larger Vaillons, Les Lys is picked, vinified and bottled separately. Northeast facing, in many ways an antithesis and as what can be considered the antithetical Premier Cru, a place which doubles the richness coupled with the occupying, chalky minerality. Old vines of 50-65 years old are harnessed with and for their power, appearing but feigning boozy, thanks to very low yields and deep, concentrated phenolic development. An intense expression that is magnified by the portents of classic and structured 2014. Not quite British psychdelia but here Chablis is intoxicating, tracing circles around my head. “Time will tell if I’ll take the homeward track. Dizziness will make my feet walk back.” Always back to Les Lys. Drink 2017-2024. Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Les Lys 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (76984, $51.00, WineAlign)

Les Lys from within the Vaillons swims with liquid calcaire running through its interpolated climat veins and oozing from its extramural pores. It is a wine possessive of a seamlessness of chalky liquidity secreting in endless oscillations. Warmer than expected or perhaps within well-reasoned sensibility for the odd vintage, compounded by more savour and evergreen sensitivity. The Fèvre treatment of Les Lys in 2013 elevates above most others, then deals in longevity and perpetuity. Its piercing fruit-mineral skewer neither pokes nor scores. It simply permeates with fineness and appeal. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted April 2015  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Les Minots

Patrick Piuze Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons “Les Minots” 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Patrick Piuze likes this single-parcel of 75 year-old vines in the warmest spot on Vaillons. He likes it a lot. The way he picks and vinifies turns over, inside and out the highest acidity and alcohol but it’s really a matter of place. This Vaillons is a striking wine, “Le Petit,” as he likes to call it and of the most wondrous mouthfeel. This from what Piuze likens as “the resto vintage,” so imagine the possibilities, the flinty, smoky, steely and cracking results that will come from true-blue, platinum, gemstone and ancient sea creature portended vintages. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted at the domain with Patrick Piuze, July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

Les Roncières

Patrick Piuze Chablis Premier Cru Les Roncières 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Piuze’s first attempt at tendering Les Roncières is here in this first edition ’15 from the single-plot, sub-climat inside Vaillons. You can’t help but sense the Dauvissat approach in Patrick’s take on Roncières with the conscious (or unconscious) allowance for the block within the block specific perfume. The stoic and quiet confidence of fruit submissive to mineral presentation points not to obviousness but to the basic tenets of smoke, flint and shell, Together they hover in the proverbial air. But Piuze’s Roncières walks a more direct line and of all his lieu-dit or Premier Cru ’15’s, it seems more akin to a vintage like ’14. This is because in mouthfeel it comes across as lean, but only in comparison to the rest of ’15. This is the one to really wait on and seek more time-rendered flesh. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

cote-de-lechet

Côte De Léchet

Côte De Léchet

Domaine Barat Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

It suffices to say that Domaine Barat’s prized terroir is this Left Bank Côte De Léchet. Their work with Right Bank plots in Fourneaux and Mont de Milieu is very good but it is here that they truly jibe and harmonize with the mise en scène of the kimmeridgian. A classic climat base wine, you note the pithy-leesy sense of washed rind cheese, the Barat richesse and spiced lemon palate. Concentrated and length-worthy, exceptional as oyster shell brittle speckled in its character. With 2016 qualified by Ludovic Barat as “une année très compliquée,” a once in a generation “catastrophe climatique,” this C de L is made all that much more important. The unprecedented combinative accumulation of hail, rain, frost, more hail and mildew in 2016 is unprecedented. With Barat’s excellent 2015 we’ll be able to say, “we’ll always have Côte De Léchet.” Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted at the domain with Angèle and Ludovic Barat, July 2016  

a-special-purechablis-je-ne-sais-quoi-from-domainebarat-milly-umami-cotedelechet-chablispremiercru

A special @purechablis je ne sais quoi from #domainebarat #milly #umami #cotedelechet #chablispremiercru

Domaine Barat Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet L’Umami 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

L’Umami is an extraordinary concept within (or without) the exclusivity of Chablis Premier Cru, a first picked, top of the plot from 90 year-old vines, separately vinified cuvée. It was a difficult harvest up at the helm of the Côte De Léchet and Ludovic Barat took this cogent fruit and laid it down in only stainless steel for 18 months. No oak, old or new, only metal on metal, mineral in mineral, stone vs. stone. You receive the most indeterminate if excellent experience that Chablis can gift but you can and will not be able to put your pointed finger squarely upon it. Thus the moniker, L’Umami. This is indeed a deferential outlook and flavour experience, a new and unreal, yet conversely experiential dive into the savoury and the mineral. The closest analogy I can make is like catching the melted drippings of limoncello granita, slightly boozy, wild and citrus musky. Few Premier Cru tastings come up so singular as this. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  

Sébastien Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2015, Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Interestingly enough that like the Beugnons this is also a bit closed at this time so again, despite the forward vintage, age for this Côte De Léchet will be aided. Richer though and fuller than the Beugnons, from a southern exposure but with high kimmeridgian and portlandian minerality. The wood is full on at this stage, not with spice like the Vaillons but with pith, kernel and then, coming up behind, drupe. While Sébastien’s 2014 might have reminded of say, a Jean Boxler (Alsace) sentiment in a chardonnay of precision and clarity, the ’15 can’t help but put a little unction at the junction of saline, mineral Chablis, as is his style and want. His 2014 just exaggerated this and ’15 does so with another shot of Dampt tonic. Really direct, inward vacuum of mouth watering and citrus expressing chardonnay. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @SebastienDampt  @LesVieuxGarcons

dampt-cdel

Sébastien Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2014, Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Dampt’s small “parcelle cinquantenaire” fortuitously facing southeast looks to higher pastures and reeks of greatness. From the terroir with the grand lookout and great kimmeridgian rocks comes this Premier Cru secretly blessed with an unknown umami factor specific to the Côte De Léchet. There are things about Chablis you can’t know or consciously discern from this but what you do puts you under spell, hypnotized and alert by fruit digging for mineral, driven into the earth. This C de L is what Sébastien concedes as being “hors normes,” non-standard Chablis concentrated from an ancient place. There is no oak, only Inox, a choice clear and necessary. What a piece of work this take on Côte De Léchet is and under the microscope of a precise and linear vintage. Classique. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016  @SebastienDampt  @LesVieuxGarcons

La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2014, Burgundy, France (SAQ 869198, $35.00, WineAlign)

Pleasure is always derived from Chablis off the prized Left Bank terroir with an ideal fan of slope and exposure and a perfect view across the Serein to the Grand Cru. La Chablisienne’s Côte De Léchet offers up a classic mineral nose with a bit of youthful SO2, taking account of its southwest exposure and carefully combing its calcaire-kimmeridgian soils for a very directed expression. Really works the specific climat for what is a cumulative expression of all around success. This is a broad and thoughtful Côte De Léchet, nothing unexpected and yet with everything gained. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted at the domaine with Vincent Bartement, July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

La Manufacture Premier Cru Chablis Côte De Léchet 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

In La Manufacture’s 2014 there is a Léchet lightness of Chablis being with lift from the limestone and it’s like an appetizer or apéritif to gain entry into Premier Cru Chablis. Crisp, tart and delicate. Some spice lifts even higher but the youth is really a talking point. Exceptional minerality gained from 2014 is used to explain what that is. A minor youthful reduction will need six to 12 months to dissipate but this will assist in the aging process. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Tremblay’s handling tends towards the leesy side and aids in the promotion of that Lechet fromage and its ancient sea-salinity, crustaceous behaviour. In fact this level of marine salty is more intense than most and doubles down with elasticity and stretched length. Far from contemplative, Tremblay’s C de L is indicative of the linear, direct and precise house style. Drink 2016-2020. Tasted July 2016  

Simonnet Febvre & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (462549, $42.95, WineAlign)

This is a striking Chablis, drawn out of an atypical vintage and from the venerable Côte de Léchet Premier Cru, an angled Left Bank climat of necessitous Kimmerridgian soil. The rocks there may be my most favourite, craggy, ash blond chunks replete with ancient sea creatures embedded in the golden stratum. This teases with the gaseous and aerified aspects of the oxidative-evolved vintage but the picking and the treatment here are spot on and just in time, because just a day or two later and too stark would have been the result. Terrific weight, pitch perfect acidity and a grazing, elongated finish. Top, top quality ’13 not to be missed. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted September 2016  @SimonnetFebvre  @ImportWineMAFWM

Sylvain Mosnier Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (318139, $35.95, WineAlign)

From the Cru’s unparalleled southeast exposure on a 38 degree slope inlaid with kimmeridgian and white stone, the high salinity quotient and briny fossil/oyster shell is predictably omnipresent. Take a moment and smell the white flowers before giving back in to the stone and direct humming energy. Extreme this Mosier from low yields and tiny grapes, even for Côte De Léchet and covertly striking for 2013. One of the absolute best but and because it’s old school. In other words, not typical 2013. Taut freshness from antediluvian terroir is a beautiful thing.  Last tasted July 2016  

Classic Chablis from a very old vineyard (belonged to the Pontigny’s monk) with southeast exposure west of the town of Chablis and just above the small village of Milly. Mosnier’s parcel gifts delicate fruit, just so fortuitous in quantity and quality of lees overtures on stony lime-driven texture. Chardonnay in hands of terroir so flinty, lacy, organza fine. What more could be asked of for this next to nothing 1er Cru Chablis price? Drink 2017-2024.  Tasted March 2016

Sylvain Mosnier Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (318139, $32.95, WineAlign)

Mosnier’s ’12 is a flinty, mineral, fruit smacked in the face Chablis from the exceptionally sea-fossil shell, stony-kimmeridgian Côte De Léchet. Soil and its tang-rocky impart doesn’t get any more obvious than here with bleeding rusty sea-nail salinity for chardonnay. Carries weight and density with a peach-pit tonic in its citrus-bent flavours. Very long and never relenting in its intensity. Drink 2016-2021.  Tasted February 2015  

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Côte De Léchet 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (181305, $26.95, WineAlign)

Tasted with Julien Brocard at the domaine from a bottle produced under the auspices of the biodynamic range and wondering if this is the cause to view this as so very different than Vau de Vey. Here the exceptional Côte De Léchet kimmeridgian terroir is rendered deeper, almost brooding, but far from humid. There is lemon but it is a preserved and slightly pithy one. Rich and layered, a variegation on liquid stone and density. This really submerges into the sub-strata. The most contemplative Côte De Léchet yet. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Vau De Vey

Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Vau De Vey 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (991893, $36.95, WineAlign)

A compressed chardonnay that strikes as a passion play between herbs and limestone and no surprise that the spoils go to the latter. The citrus is gassy, rising, bathed in atmosphere. The structure is predicated on stone, rock and struck flint. Chablis of metal and essential minerality, discovered and defined. This slow-ripened chardonnay will evolve one year for every month contributed by its growing cycle. Drink 2016-2026.  Tasted June 2016  @DomaineLaroche  @SelectWinePros

Steak Tartare, Bar Le Quai, Auxerre

Steak Tartare, Bar Le Quai, Auxerre

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Chablis Premier Cru Vau De Vey 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (159012, $29.95, WineAlign)

Brocard’s Vau de Vey is a Left Banker that offers up a unique set of Chablis aromas, hard to pinpoint but recalling something akin to tubers sprinkled with rock salt. Even from the forward and sun-gifted 2015 vintage this is hard to tackle and there is some CO2 still working on the palate. Is expressive of dogged persistence, spirit and vitality. A very fresh Vau de Vey. From a very steep, east facing vineyard (nearly 50 per cent grade in spots), inviting and receptive to morning sun. Distilled down to the bare mineral essentials it is simply a wine that pops. Wait a year and drink it young while the ’14 continues to flesh and in lieu of the absence of ’16. Drink 2017-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Chablis Premier Cru Vau De Vey 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (159012, $29.95, WineAlign)

The contrast is quite striking to 2012, two vintages so aligned and so very different. Here actually and surprisingly rich for a 2014 but essentially fresh and vital, as per the Vau de Vey locale, east facing, steep, always ready and sure to pop, like rocks on the gush of a geyser. Now settled past the once twitching phase, this has the surety of minerality from ancient kimmeridgian grants. A platinum VdeV with statuesque musculature. Long from head to toe. Personally speaking I’d wait two years for a further fleshing to ensue. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Vau De Vey 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (159012, $29.95, WineAlign)

Tasted with Julien Brocard from the biodynamic range, this Vaudevey (Brocard spelling, same, same) 2012 really is such an exceptional wine from an even more exceptional vintage. I write this with bias in a tasting that includes the ’14 and ’15 VdVs, so the viewpoint is at least obscured in part to the relative terms my current immersed opinion. Such texture, if only from an aromatic perspective, is estate defining, but it does not stop there. The palate brings such healthy phenolics and drive, purpose and this singular exceptionality of precision. The balance is impeccable and the tannin so fine. This will age for 10 years with love in kind and circumstance of the mind. The length slides in lingerings for miles and miles. Drink 2016-2025.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Beauroy

Domaine Hamelin Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (391805, $32.95, WineAlign)

While all the Chablis climats enjoyed an ideal growing season in 2014 I have to say that the Premier Cru Beauroy made full use of its gifts. The parcel lacks the striking mineral underfoot of close neighbours Côte de Léchet and Vaillons but what it does have is roundness and depth of fruit. In 2014 those aspects converge with the Chablis mineral ethos to paint a picture who’s whole is both the sum and the accumulation of its parts. Hamelin makes full advantage of fruit, rock and vintage. The triumvirate is saddled with ideal and ripe acidity an d the extract is second to none. A prime example and just about as good as it gets in the beautiful king’s climat. Drink 2016-2023.  Tasted August 2016    @oenophilia1

La Manufacture Premier Cru Chablis Beauroy 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

It is the deponent exhibition of Premier Cru Beauroy that La Manufacture creates the full-bodied cru, flirtatious, gregarious and giving. From what Benjamin Laroche describes as a “vraiment superb exposition,” Beauroy delivers so much lemon citrus of the preserved and pressed variety. It may not define calm, amenable and paradigmatic Chablis like Vau Ligneau but in other ways it is more than that. Ways that come from a need to flaunt and display. Such an interesting way with Beauroy. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Tremblay’s is a Beauroy of salinity and beautiful brine, from a half hectare block, piercing if immediately gratifying Chablis. There are some underlying bitter notes (but good ones, like wasabi) but also necessarily and ultimately tart, smoky, flinty and compressed. Chablis in the mind of Beauroy as it surely once must have been, strayed from and has now made the traditional new once again. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (907733, $52.00, WineAlign)

Beauroy is a south facing Premier Cru harvested earliest than most and also done so to preserve freshness, acidity and the most that can be gained from its subtle terroir. Fevre treats it with 15 per cent oak and the remainder goes into tank. Beauroy’s deference here is acquiescence, its character preserved, like lemon compressed in a jar or a curd slowly concentrated to the point of pure, glossy, silken texture. I find this typical of Fevre for 2014, consistent with the rich house style and yet may be the most elastic and restorative Premier Cru of the eight tasted. Impressive all around. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (907733, $52.00, WineAlign)

A best of both worlds kind of Premier Cru Chablis, this beautiful Beauroy, with a fleur de sel-floral feminine side like Les Lys and a white meat, white heat masculine calcaire drift like Montmains. The barrel begins to show, in as much as whatever the fruit is willing to relent and submit. Charges into another gear, where mineral is spoken as citrus. Not as refined as Les Lys and not as gritty as bigger Montmains (or as deep) but in Beauroy the twain is met. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted April 2015  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

la-manufacture

Vau Ligneau

La Manufacture Premier Cru Chablis Vau Ligneau 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

From the valley through the forest, Vau Ligneau is located parallel to Vau de Vey and is widely considered to possess a more favourable exposition. La Manufacture’s 2014 is all about freshness and elegance. “C’est Chablis,” says Benjamin Laroche with a wise and confident smile, followed by a knowing chuckle. Yes Mr. Laroche, this is Chablis. Direct, fresh, intense but somehow and needfully easy to understand and enjoy. Walks a straight citrus line and is very versatile. Near perfect because it can please just about every palate. Settle in and relish the definitive expression of Premier Cru Chablis and with Vau Ligneau there is no need for social media. Laroche does his very best here as a man of négoce, working with his growers. Now 2016 will be a difficult vintage, with at best 50 per cent of 5,000 hectares available and without any idea of quality or price. “It will be complicated in 2018” shrugs Laroche. Pack away this Vau Ligneau and make great use of its charms through 2018 and beyond. Drink 2017-2023.  Tasted July 2016  @BenjaminLAROCHE  @StemWineGroup

Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis Premier Cru Vaulignot 2014, Burgundy, France (525386, $36.95, WineAlign)

Vaulignot was created in 1976, one of the last Premier Crus to gain such status within the association. Note that Moreau’s nomenclature is Vaulignot instead of Vau Ligneau, but the meaning is exactly the same. Really round and rich Chablis with a relative and realistic purity specific to place. This alights as a sun-drenched and lemon waxy chardonnay with enough (thank you very much 2014) tension to keep it rolling right along. What Vaulignot brings to the Chablis table is stick to your tongue, mouth and ribs persistence and vitamin water mineral enhancement. In a way it is caught in the Chablis netherland between up front gregariously fruity and strikingly mineral/acidity piercing. Great length in this vintage. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted October 2016  @MoreauLouis1

Right Bank

chablis-1er-cru

Fourchaume

(Vaulorent)

Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

As if handed off like a relay torch or baton from the Petit Chablis, the thread of elegance, purity and clarity continues in the Séguinot Bordet Chablis. Freshness floats in Chablis suspension, a liquid not so much viscous but one that acts as a cradling or a coddling. There is spice up on the aromatic front and it heads straight north to tease and tingle the olfactory senses. Deeper down it’s all inter-metallic compounds and alloys, a dimension that exists in a realm beyond chardonnay. Chablis. A circumambient capacity resistant to wood or nut but steals subtle aspects of both. Tasted with proprietor Jean-François Bordet in Auxerre he concludes, “my story is in memory.” Chablis by wrote. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted July and September 2016  @BordetJean  @TheCaseForWine

Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

“Are you a leftie or a righty” is the first question Jean-François Bordet asks at Niagara’s i4c Cool Chardonnay Chablis masterclass. He does so and then introduces his very own Right Bank, Premier Cru Fourchaume 2014. So I guess we know where he stands. His ’14 is clean, elegant and long. It is a nourishing mouthful of Chablis and markedly layered with tart compressions that really travel back on the the tongue and to the sides of the mouth. Séguinot Bordet’s Fourchaume could be labeled as L’Homme Mort, but it’s not. This top of the Right Bank hill, kimmeridgian limestone lieu-dit is known for classic minerality that somehow and impossibly does not translate as smoky or flinty. In the hands of J-F it most certainly transmits the rock but with flesh on that mineral bone. Drink 2017-2021.  Tasted July 2016  @BordetJean  @TheCaseForWine

La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2014, Burgundy, France (SAQ 11094671, $38.50, WineAlign)

Fourchaume by La Chablisienne stylistically shows how amazing it is that when you taste a Premier Cru that makes full breadth use of fruit from across the climats within a larger climat, you get such a full and rounded expression. This Chablisienne is a poster child for such a cuvée. In a way it so perfectly defines the largest of the Premier Cru because it is a melting pot for so many plots and blocks. It also employs more wood so here Chablis softens into the cream of crème anglaise, pretty, downy, like lemon chiffon. A generous, full and flat out feminine chardonnay of aggregated fruit to woo and court a decidedly English palate. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016     @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

Domaine Gautheron Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume “L’homme Mort” 2014, Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

L’Homme-Mort is a block at middle slope adjacent to and counted as of the eight lieu-dits that make up the Fourchaume Premier Cru. To many hearts and minds, it is the best of them. The increased limestone presence is palpable on the Gautherons palate, after the latent aroma to atmosphere ubiety relented to that palate confident in retention of lemon and lime. L’Homme Mort is straight to the back of the mind direct, a Chablis recall to arms for the days of great acids. It will live long. Drink 2017-2022.  Tasted July 2016     @ProfileWineGrp

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Taken specifically from a block in the Vaupulent lieu-dit at the southern end of the larger Fourchaume. The style is rich but with mineral in the air, ethereal and intoxicating. Fourchaume does not always get to such precise and hovering heights. This is typically 2014 and elevated by citrus with extreme prejudicial clarity. Right in the linear wheelhouse. Long floral, waxy citrus finish. Drink 2018-2023.  Tasted July 2016  @Billaud_Simon

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $69.00, WineAlign)

Fèvre from from the largest Premier Cru is Chablis of a double-edged dagger, Domaine versus Domaine, cru within cru. Fourchaume is split into five distinct climats and with Fèvre holding plots in Vaulorent, they bottle both a Fourchaume and a Vaulorent. This particular expression of Vaulorent is from three point six hectares split into eight plots. Located on the Grand Cru hill so texture here mimics (especially Les Preuses) with an extension to the northwest of the same exposure, compressing into marl and cut with kimmeridgian stone impression. This is intense, dramatic, rich and lengthy. The most opulence, perhaps in all of the ’14’s. All drama. Begs to be enjoyed. Drink 2016-2020.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Domaine Gérard Tremblay Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

Vincent Tremblay’s old vines Fourchaume was planted by his father Gérard’s father in 1951 smack dab in the middle of the Fourchaume. In the realm of Fouchaume this is stiff, right wing, reactionary stuff, bracing and complex. As intense in lemon acidity as any in the largest of the Right Bank Crus and very linear. Needs a couple of years to settle into its tough skin. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016  

Vaulorent

Patrick Piuze Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2015, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Patrick Piuze does not offer up any sort of dissertation on the larger Fourchaume in presenting his Vaulorent. He has moved on. “This climat is so focused,” he confirms. “The real Chablis.” In my estimation Vaulorent is the opposite of Fourchaume, of anti-blanketing fruit-mineral amenability, sharp, fixated, honed-in. Though Piuze readily admits this about Fourchaume. “Me, I don’t understand it.” So he traded in his larger Fourchaume fruit for the more parochial Vaulorent. What he’s really saying (or I am thinking) is that he’s relying on instinct and holistic navigation to grace Vaulorent with respect. In 2015 mission accomplished. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016  @patrickpiuze  @LaCelesteLevure  @LiffordON

La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2014, Burgundy, France (111666, $41.99, WineAlign)

Perhaps more than any of their Right Bank Premier Cru, the Vaulorent is rich, round, super-sized and yet conversely flinty, all in all a very full expression and so well rounded. The significance of southern exposure must sometimes be minimized for the sake of extolling the virtues of this Cru at the northern end of the Grand Cru vineyards, bordering the Grand Cru climats of Preuses and Bougros. It is so different and singular on its own, from fruit raised by one grower for Chablisienne in the best, west facing exposure. It is a complex and purposed Chablis, perhaps the most distinct of the Premier Crus, really stands out, is more saline (and of a specific salinity) that drives the true mineral of Chablis like no other. And the length is just outstanding. Drink 207-2024.  Tasted July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

Domaine Jean Paul Et Benoît Droin Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2014, Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

Benoît Droin’s Vaulorent is approached with the same precise parenting as his other Chablis but none take a shine to ubiquity as they do from this Right Bank radiant one. This brings all aspects of Chablis exceptionality into play; smoke, flint, acidity and compression. The wood does nothing to detract from the incandescence and the flashing of mineral glare and yet the moments of fullness offer calming junctures of textural relief. It can’t always be piercing and raging acids. Balance is blessed countenance in Droin’s Vaulorent. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016

brocard

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $29.95, WineAlign)

Brocard’s Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent is drawn off of the eastern section of the amphitheatre vineyard next to Les Preuses Grand Cru. Vaulorent is not just any other Right Bank climat and in ’14 graces with an inexorable tapestry of geology and micro-climate in conspiracy for a very special plot. It brings a mille-feuille unction of variegated richness and a level of extract to feign sweetness. Brocard’s Vaulorent expresses the vineyard as it should, to show its strength as one of the most impressive and impressing climats not considered or recognized as Grand Cru. So elegant and so very, very long. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $87.00, WineAlign)

This second Fourchaume/Vaulorent from Fèvre completes the double-edged dagger investigation into a Domaine cru within a cru. Fourchaume the large and formidable Premier Cru is split into five distinct climats and Fèvre’s in Vaulorent provides the fruit for both the Fourchaume and this Vaulorent. The level of kimmerdigian mineral inflection is undeniably greater than in the grander Fourchaume ideal but whenever something is gained, something else is lost. Fruit suffering is a tragedy elsewhere in the chardonnay diaspora but in Chablis it is transformed into power, grace under pressure and ulterior elegance. That is this Vaulorent, especially in 2014. Here the ideals of presence, determination and persistence gather together. This is very adult Chablis, very serious and very young. It ranks with Montée De Tonnerre for sheer mineral guts if only missing just a Chapelot-like layer of richness. Drink 2019-2027.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Vaucopins

Domaine Oudin Chablis Premier Cru Vaucoupins 2014, Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

From Jean-Claude and Christiane and their small vineyard by the village of Chichée, just south of Chablis, their now winemaker daughter Nathalie’s take on Vaucopins is a pressing matter from hilltop, southern exposure and grand old vines (65 years) in the Premier Cru realm. The combination of natural fermentation and a year resting on lees brings a smoothness and a silky clean texture to mineral lacing. Certainly draws from and for more herbiage and a calmer, keener, settled sense of chardonnay. Not as striking as some others but conversely beautiful and serene. Drink 2017-2022. Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaucopins 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 10845111, $41.25, WineAlign)

Vaucopins is drawn off of five hectares on really steep slopes on the Right Bank. It is neither Les Lys nor Vaillons but somehow an across the river genetic and amalgamated combination of the two. Though there is a wild side to Vaucopins it really streams the vintage. Natural and corporeal because the fruit is untethered but habitual in that it mimics the Grand Cru. Its south-facing cragges and outcrops bring warmth to the kimmeridgian and that is why Matthieu Mangenot treats its élevage like a Grand Cru. The result is a very concentrated Chablis from 15 per cent (older Bichot barrels) oak fermentation. Drink 2018-2023.  Tasted July 2016  @Matth_Mangenot  

Les Fourneaux

Domaine Barat Chablis Premier Cru Les Fourneaux 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

Some reduction still persists in this summer of 2016, attributed to the handling and mineral-levitating intent to foil one of the warmest Right Bank Premier Crus of Chablis. And so the salinity is clearly specific to Fourneaux, compressed like bricks of ancient oceanic residue and slag. Makes for an intense expression, of tension and in solicitation of patience. The vintage must be called out for defining such an anti-ambagious line with the words and wisdom of the calcaire-argileux. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016  

charly

Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis Premier Cru Les Fourneaux 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

From a Right Bank terroir near Fleys in relative Premier Cru isolation (although close enough to Mont de Milieu), Charly Nicolle’s ’14 cuts like a knife through the “furnace” that is Fourneaux. The laser edge of acidity slices through the rich fruit and only Nicolle’s handling finds this sort of linear work from a climat well-known for its warmth and roundness. Such a pure, distinct, precise and purposed impression is imprinted on a taster’s Chablis brain. Long is the understatement. This is trekking on a road to forever.  Drink 2018-2024. Tasted July 2016  

Mont de Milieu

Garnier & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Mont De Milieu 2014, Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

From near and dear Premier Cru terroir a hop, skip and a rock slide away from the Grand Cru, the Garnier Mont de Milieu is charmingly larger (600L) barrel suave and soupy, more so and noticeable as deferential to many of its peers. A bit stoic and understated in the aromatic department and then linear, lean, unaggressive yet taut on the palate. Not the most corporeal M de M but then again that’s not necessarily the milieu. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisgarnier

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (373548, $44.95, WineAlign)

Billaud-Simon’s vines are up the hill in front of the forest, with four plots that work their way south and west and of parcels 40-70 years of age. This has such air and pomp in its deep breaths with the most maleficent acidity and tension in its grip. As stirring a Mont de Milieu as you will find built on 40 hL/H yields of solid citrus meets yellow apple fruit. Terrific attraction and length. Superb. Classic unoaked Chablis. Can envision it unchanging for seven years followed by a slow walk into and through the preserved citrus museum. With fruit this clean it will petrify before it spoils. Drink 2019-2027.  Tasted July 2016  @Matth_Mangenot  

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Mileu 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $69.00, WineAlign)

Mont de Milieu crosses the river to rest in Domaine territory on the right bank, facing south, with 55 year-old plots and crazy low yields (20 hL/L). The vintage was better than many in much of Chablis but winemaker Didier Séguier is not sold on this Mont de Milieu. Though flowering was not top notch it was easily better than ’13. Well, hotter at least, as there were days at 42 degrees. Consider the anti-Chablis like funk in the lemon, some disproportion and oddly-pronounced variegation. Some kind of natural, free-flowing character is exhibited in this M de M and it most certainly is an outlier. Coming back down to earth and digging into the rocks the notes say the finish is direct, piercing and marked by compressed citrus. Very mineral, of course. The early variant personality is chalked up to youth and this is not the first Mont de Milieu that appeals to time and patience. It should be afforded some. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2014, Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Mont de Milieu’s Right Bank, Grand Cru, Vaucopins and Montée de Tonnérre proximate locale is not lost on the excellence level of Chablisienne’s effort. Further endorsed by the ’14 vintage this M De M is cooler, specing-savoury, briny, crustaceous even. The southern exposure develops rich and ripe fruit and along with some SO2, here the bivalve shell mixed with ripeness means divaricated business. It’s the rock and the ancient, subterranean, mineral flow of the Serein’s Crioux tributary that give the shellac, the lustre, prolongation and appendix. The Mont de Milieu ’14 right here is the oyster wine. Make great use of this purpose for a decade or more. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016    @vbartement  @Vinexxperts

Domaine Charly Nicolle Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineAlign)

In 2011 Charly Nicolle reintroduced wood into the family Chablis continuum with 400L first, second and third fill barrels employed for the Premier Cru. Old (55 year-old vines) in the Mont de Milieu produce a leaner wine indicative of the climat with a not so unexpected high mineral direct shot to the back off the brain. An eminent predominance of lemon and lime runs parlous by juice, zest and juice again. This is a laser M de M, even by the cru’s standards, an effect created by incredulous and concentrated calcareous activity. Drink 2017-2023.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Barat Chablis Premier Cru Mont De Milieu 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

If Les Fourneaux seemed a bit backward and intense then this Mont de Milieu is downright cast against a solid kimmeridgian wall. Yet another dynamite and sharply oblique Chablis from an even more striking mineral plot in the most arresting of vintages. Though the current disposition is a chassis carved in crustaceous stone the rewards will be borne out of perseverance. The sous-vide mineral soak and deep saline rub has brought about slow white caramelization and will eventually morph into stony, ecumenical goodness. Wait for it. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016  

Domaine Barat Chablis Premier Cru Mont De Milieu 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, WineAlign)

You could not accuse this 2013 as being unprejudiced to vintage or unsectarian to climat. It is in fact typically 2013 with notes of mandarin orange, lychee and a texture more creamy than anything ’14 or ’15 in the Barat portfolio. It is also counter-intuitive to the Mont de Milieu milieu, waxy and honeyed, so more older Beaune meets sémillon than Chablis. The vintage has confused many a Premier Cru and this is not immune. That said there is no shortage of interest and perhaps even enthusiasm in the continuing investigation. Drink 2016-2019.  Tasted July 2016  

Jean Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milleu 2006, Ac Burgundy, France (265348, $27.95, WineAlign)

Julien Brocard also pours this Mont de Milleu 2006 from magnum alongside the advanced Les Clos Grand Cru 2007. This only helps to accentuate a sense that the Premier Cru is quite youthful though the aromatics are imaginative of culinary gastronomy. From a warm year with low acidity, though slightly muddled the humidity here is comforting and blessed. A real pleasure to drink and were some scallops served alongside this would offer up a little slice of Brocard heaven. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016  @chablisbrocard  @LiffordON

Montée De Tonnerre

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Montée De Tonnerre 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (325241, $52.00, WineAlign)

Tasted at the domaine, from three parcels, Montée de Tonnerre, Pied d’aloup and Côte de Chapelot, climats up on the hill on the right bank close to the town of Chablis. Rounder (with 10 per cent old oak) than Mont de Milieu but still of terrific 2014 acidity, though noticeable with more orchard fruit to mingle with the stones. The tension increases with some time spent with the M de T and like well-structured Premier Cru Chablis will want to do, it lingers with a combination of tension and amenability. Part gentille Alouette and part Kimmeridgian flinty, this is a terrific example of the co-habitable duality of great Chablis. It is also indicative of the transformative restoration and direction of Billaud-Simon under the auspices of winemaker Olivier Bailly. I will let this bird rest for a couple more years and then a promise. “Je te plumerai.” Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016  @Billaud_Simon

Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Montée De Tonnerre 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (Agent, $75.00, WineAlign)

Montée De Tonnerre is deserving of its reputation and Fèvre is a large part of that classification. In the realm of the Domaine Premier Cru this is the most mineral (along with only one other, that being Vaulorent) and one of the most in Chablis. The two point two hectare site is gauged in three plots. The catalyst mineral bringer Pied d’Aloup sits at the top and faces east, Chapelot also faces east and offers up richness while Côte de Bréchain, planted in 1936 faces west and brings the acidity. It is in this amalgamation of prized terroirs where the persistence of ancient stone, pillars of vineyard, vine and Chablis climat are second to none. Incredible presence and ability, cauterized and accentuated by a vintage that ushers the stereotype, hyperbole and essential aspects of what it is to be called Chablis. Looking for a wine to explain why Chablis is not chardonnay? Look no further. Drink 2018-2025.  Tasted July 2016  @williamfevre_  @WoodmanWS

Domaine Testut Chablis Premier Cru Montée De Tonnerre 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (WineryWineAlign)

A profound sense of minerality is not merely felt but understood in Testut’s Montée De Tonnerre. The entire experience with this ’14 is precise, focused and linear. Few Chablis are ever this salty (it really is the most saline) and there is this lovely oyster shell brine. Intense even for what I may have come to expect from Montée De Tonnerre, here the stones, rocks and shells ride in on tides of salinity. And yet there is an underlying ripeness so Testut’s is less sour (and/or tart) then most others in the 2014 range. Great example. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted July 2016  

Rouget, bouillabaisse, légumes d'été, Au Fil du Zinc, Chablis

Rouget, bouillabaisse, légumes d’été, Au Fil du Zinc, Chablis

Louis Michel & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Montée Du Tonnerre 2012, Ac Burgundy, France (SAQ 894253, $43.75, WineAlign)

The giving vintage is most expressive in the hands of Louis Michel, brimming with and pushing the limits of the Cru’s available richness. Montée de Tonnerre is capable of but normally kept shy of such viscous, lemon-lime fleshy Chablis. Will pour this way for another two years before developing some recession and spare tire weight. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted July 2016

Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru Montée Du Tonnerre 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (AgentWineAlign)

Montée de Tonnerre is a new négoce cuvée for Laroche, using fruit from some contact growers thus “Domaine” is not on the label. The entire allocation is aged in 55 hL foudres and there is certainly more oak influence in creamy texture than the rest of the Premier Cru, though there is no compromise because the salinity and acidity appear in droves. There is roundness within those contexts but because of the age potential of the vintage and the effect of a Chablis climat of such high esteem, patience is required. It is the passport to the MdeT’s future. A return sip 30 minutes later sees the wine open up a bit, the wood melting and softening, but still, structurally speaking so very tight and so, so long. Drink 2018-2022.  Tasted July 2016  @DomaineLaroche  @SelectWinePros

structured-tightly-wound-contiguous-style-from-domainejeancollet-bivbchablis-jeancolletfils-chablispremiercru-chablisgrandcru-montedetonnerre-montmains-lesforets-vaillons-secher-butteaux

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Montée Du Tonnerre 2014, Ac Burgundy, France (405720, $34.95, WineAlign)

Just amazing pitch and imploding vitality from a climat that demands traditional winemaking (in 100 per cent old wood) so as not to detract from a classic flinty, steely Chablis direction. No bells and whistles, just rocks and stones and straight ahead chardonnay. Takes what the vintage gives and tackles the rest. Drink 2018-2024.  Tasted August 2016  

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Montée Du Tonnerre 2013, Ac Burgundy, France (405720, $34.95, WineAlign)

Romain Collet sequesters 100 per cent old wood to gently coax the elegance out of the Montée De Tonnerre fruit, a task not readily or handily achieved in the most atypical and topsy-turvy 2013 vintage. At the few shakes under three year mark the expression acts typically citrus preserve zesty but the mouthfeel, texture and application are substantive, leaning to tropical. There is no breach so the wine remains in the proper sous-vide, subterranean mineral realm, with thanks to an early pick. Tart and tang layer with slow-developed, old wood spice. Quite lovely and emblematic of the storied cru for short term consumption. Drink 2016-2018.  Tasted at the domain with Romain Collet, July 2016  

Domaine Jean Collet & Fils Chablis Premier Cru Montée Du Tonnerre 2011, Ac Burgundy, France (405720, $34.95, WineAlign)

Collet’s Montée De Tonnerre 2011 shifts forward and top heavy with good upfront fruit, namely green apple and a quarried road of verdant, emerald green, gemstone minerality. The middle ground is quite wispy, ethereal, misty and then grounded by the sort of tang only a moderate to generous percentage of Premier Cru rendered barrel can do. Lime peel and a linear extreme of acidity takes this M de T places, into an integrated summons for age ability. Drink 2016-2022.  Tasted February 2015  

The fromages cart at Le Bourgogne, Auxerre

The fromages cart at Le Bourgogne, Auxerre

Good to go!

Godello

Twitter: @mgodello

Instagram: mgodello

WineAlign