Tasted at the BIVB in Chablis, 05 Jan 2016.
Every year as a kick-off to my series of Chablis visits, I like to get something of baseline feeling for each new vintage, and what better way to start than with the base of the appellation, Petit Chablis. The BIVB are helpful in calling for samples and providing a quiet place to taste them.
Petit Chablis is usually a long-time in bottle – often 6 months – by January, indeed In the last, relatively low yielding vintages, many producers are already sold-out in January so offer no sample.
Petit Chablis almost always has a little austerity about it – certainly from the last 2 vintages – coming either from a frank acidity, or from phenolic aromas or flavour (which can also be delicious – think of tonic water when well-balanced), but usually both.
Despite the lowly appellation, the acidity in these wines can amount to a serious intensity overload, doubly so if there’s a little too much dissolved CO2 – how long can you keep a mouthful of Cola in place before having to swallow? It’s the same and can border on the aggressive – at least in a wine context. But for this appellation we shouldn’t confuse intensity with concentration – it’s a rare wine here that will also display concentration, after-all, these are usually cropped at 60 hl/ha.
All are tasted completely blind, and in the order collected by the BIVB, so I tasted the sample labelled number 1 first, and number 29 last. Quickly looking at the covered bottles, I can see only one that’s been presented with a screw-cap – actually sample number 1 – I’ll make a guess that that’s from Laroche (no it wasn’t – no wine from Laroche here), but let’s see! Once the tasting is complete I can look at the labels and also get a list of producer details prepared for me by the BIVB – the labels invariably kept to between 12-12.5% alcohol.
It seems to me a great result in 2014 – at least from this selection of wines; 14 unreserved recommendations – virtually half of the samples! – and many more very good wines too. I should say also, ‘well done’ to La Chablisienne; three blind wines from them at the end, all different (cuvées) and all excellent!
If these wines are not already sold out, then 2014 is a vintage that will go down very well indeed in the coming summer months – the wines are a little more rounded and less austere than recent vintages, yet with the requisite Chablis character…
Medium-pale. The nose is very inviting with fresh, silky citrus fruit. Good attack, a depth of layered, ripe flavour – this is excellent and finely textured too. Surely too good for sample number 1 – excellent!
Medium lemon-yellow colour. A pretty, floral nose with lemon yellow notes in support, a clean impression to the nose. Wide, fresh, flowing acidity but nothing sharp, rather mouth-watering with some phenolic complexity in the mid-palate and finish. More exuberant than the last, but also excellent!
#3 – Domaine Thomas Ventoura (Fontenay-près-Chablis)
Medium-pale colour. Here is a more direct, up and down nose, rather than wide; a more classic Chablis impression of salty seashore. A little fat to the texture, more direct acidity, a little salt, very impressive wine with something of a savoury note in the finish. The latter savoury note just taking the edge off an otherwise brilliant wine.
#4 – Domaine de Pisse-Loup (Bienes)
Medium lemon-yellow. Deep, almost pungent, citrus nose. A little dissolved CO2 and forward acidity make for direct intensity. Green and yellow citrus in that intensity, yet quite good balance too. If I need a wake-me-up, I’d take this wine!
#5 – L & C Poitout, Cuvée Sycamore (Chablis)
Medium-pale yellow. Attractive, almost modest nose of seashore and freshness. Wide, intense, almost-ripe flavour attack before a more composed and classy mid-palate and finishing aspect. Another ’wake-up’ wine, but with significant potential if the initial attack moderates just a little.
Medium-pale lemon-yellow colour. Interesting, attractive deep mineral notes – this has my attention! A long line of flavour, obviously grapefruit acidity, with a faint phenolic element. Excellent finishing persistence too. So-far, something of an individual – but worth your time!
#7 – Guillaume Vrignaud (Fontenay-près-Chablis)
Medium lemon-yellow colour. An agrume reduction, perhaps more reduction than agrume, but it’s borderline! A little gas, but here is a complex and interesting palate, plenty of energy and action – the last notes again with those modestly reductive impressions. I think I like this as it makes me think!
#8 – Christophe et Fils (Fye)
Medium-pale lemon-yellow. A tighter nose, with fresh, faintly herbal notes. Direct, intense acid-led flavours. I have to say very intense, but with a good finishing persistence. There is balance in the mid-palate, but certainly here is no shrinking violet!
#9 – Domaine des Malandes (Chablis)
Medium-pale lemon-yellow colour. Pretty, seashore, faint phenolics and citrus – complex but not overpowering. A core of intensity, indeed concentration; lots of citrus aspects, mouth-watering flavour too. Here is a classically framed yet hardly austere Petit Chablis. Very good!
#10 – Clothilde Davenne (Préhy)
Medium lemon-yellow colour. Tight, herby, phenolic nose. Much too much CO2 for my delicate tongue, followed intense, herby but interesting flavours – and with good persistence too. I’d say that this needs a little bottle time, if nothing else, just to reduce the gas – that, or better still, a carafe.
#11 – Domaine de la Mauperthuis (Civry)
Medium lemon-yellow colour. Classically Chablis nose but with a reductive undertow. Wide, fresh and intense but falling short of overwhelmingly intense. Good intensity in the finishing note too, where the last impression is of a slightly reductive minerality. Probably excellent, again with a carafe!
Medium yellow colour. Wide, rather tight aromas, only a little herb escapes the glass. Big, bright, mouth-watering, lovely citrus acidity, and just a hint of that sweetness of mouth-watering acidity that you buy Chablis for. Good weight of finishing flavour too. Despite being an aromatic lightweight today, this is excellent!
Medium lemon-yellow colour. A deep if not so wide nose; with a little faintly sweet citrus. A little modest grapefruit impression, with a growing intensity of flavour – rather than ‘pow’ this grows with you, than just as calmly subsides into a good finish. I like both the flavour and the shape of this.
#14 – Stéphanie et Vincent Michelet (Montigny-la-Resle)
Medium, lemon-yellow colour. Wide, fresh, slightly phenolic nose. Grows in the mouth, good width of flavour too, flavour than very slowly fades. Very good wine here in this context. Easy but tasty drinking.
Medium-pale lemon-yellow. A wide and nicely complex nose; there’s freshness and depth with modesty. Super balance in the mouth; fresh acidity but never aggressive. Lovely mid-palate complexity. Length too. Excellent Petit Chablis.
#16 – Bardet et Fils (Noyers sur Serein)
Medium yellow colour. Some width but more depth of aroma; very faintly phenolic at the base. Some gas and forward acidity but just avoiding ’too much!’ The flavour has a subtly reductive edge but this brings a more mineral impression, particularly in the finish. Very good!
Medium yellow. Deep but not high-toned, almost textured nose that hints a little towards honey. Supple, growing intensity, just a hint saline. There’s a fine finishing persistence of flavour here. Despite aromatic modesty, this is a perfect wine for drinking and talking – sufficiently fine without dominating the senses – yum!
Medium-pale, lemon-yellow. Fresh, complex, faintly phenolic nose with a modest cushioning of sweetness. Ooh – this is nice – wouth-watering intense, sweetly mouth-watering flavour. Pure Chablis – and good Chablis at that! Excellent!
#19 – Jean Durup Père et Fils (Maligny)
Medium, lemon-yellow colour. A wide, herby nose with a tighter core of fruit underneath. Wide in the mouth too with a mineral acidity with some sweat inflections. Despite the tight nose, this tastes great, with a modest but interesting finish too.
#20 – Sylvain Mosnier (Beines)
Medium lemon-yellow colour. Deep, faintly musty nose – some SO2? In the mouth this is rather good, with mouth-watering, reductively inflected flavours and a good finishing intensity. The nose gives the impression of improving with air – I’d dump this in a carafe – it seems really rather good.
#21 – Domaine Hamelin (Lignorelles)
Medium-pale yellow colour. Fresh, precise, with reductive notes. Width on the palate, slowly growing intensity but never aggressive, and slowly fading. Very good!
#22 – Domaine Millet (Tonnèrre)
Medium-pale, lemon yellow. Deep and round yet rather modest nose, just a little faint spice impression. Round with fine shape and a growing acidity that’s never aggressive. Pretty flavours that quickly fade – but can be equally quickly topped up! Another that’s very good!
A wider, different shaped bottle. Pale lemon-yellow colour. Pretty if rather tight nose, just the faintest citrus reference. In the mouth this is lovely – growing acid-led intensity, roundness, and an engaging complexity. Lovely in the finish too. Excellent!
#24 – Domaine des Hâtes (Maligny)
Medium, medium-pale, lemon-yellow. A ‘clean’ but rather discreet nose. Wide, good acidity, a hint brusque but also with complexity and energy – lots to recommend here. I like!
#25 – Lamblin et Fils (Maligny)
Medium-pale lemon-yellow. Another modest nose, but there’s a faintly herby seashore escaping from the glass. Some gas but not too obtrusive. The flavour is mouth-watering and quite impressive – even a slight sweetness adheres to the teeth. Just a little sour note to the acidity. But this remains lots of fun.
Medium, medium-pale, lemon yellow. Note the widest nose, but there’s a faint core of ripe yellow citrus. Quite large-scaled flavour in the context of the other wines, a growing intensity but nothing aggressive. A wine that might tend to dominate your conversation, but in a positive way. Super!
Hmm, it seems to me a heavier bottle. Medium, medium-pale, lemon yellow. One of the prettiest noses; there are flowers, width of aroma with a discreet reductive accent, and a certain padded impression of sweetness. In the mouth this is supple, finely endowed with acidity, no spikes, just a flow of flavour. Simply an excellent wine, even with a hint of flowers in the finish. Bravo!
Medium, medium-pale, lemon-yellow colour. Deep, interesting, more lime-fruited, and with a suggestion of aromatic weight below. Nice weight and scale in the mouth. Slowly adding further dimensions to the flavour. Just a little brighter than the last wine but fine flavoured – particularly in the finish. Another ‘bravo’!
Medium, medium-pale, lemon-yellow. Fresh, discreetly herbed nose. Another supple wine over the palate, with mouth-watering flavour of fine detail and discreet minerality. Something of an all-rounder, and lovely too!