Tasted in Chablis with Didier Seguier, 11 January 2016.
Domaine William Fèvre
21, avenue Oberwesel
Tel: +33 3 98 98 98
Didier on 2015:
“2015, had a hot and dry spring, good flowering, hot summer. Monday 31st August, hail went through a corridor of Montmains, Montée de Tonnerre, and Les Clos where certain parcels lost about 50% – fortunately the grapes were already above 12.5° so there was chance to attack before any rot. A little darker juice just to start, but that’s nothing – and it was really a question of lower quantity, not quality. There’s lower acidity, similar to 2009 or 2006. It will be a pure vintage though as the grapes were so clean. Overall 25-35 hl/ha yields where the hail hit, 30-45 hl/ha where not hailed for the crus, but an okay still 55-60 hl/ha for the Chablis.”
Didier on 2014:
“The opposite! More cold but also with beautiful grapes – the flowering was less good because it was too hot – really a couple of days of canicule during the flowering so lots of millerandes. The wind towards the end of the vintage did a great job of further concentrating the grapes – a grand millesime classique. Really for the purists! A little better rendement in 2014 with 30-40hl/ha in the crus and about 55 hl/ha for Chablis.”
“Market remains good, but we lack wine at all levels after the lower harvests.”
Most wines were bottled at the end of 2015, only 4 remain to be done, and they will be bottled this week – always 14-16 months of elevage except for the Petit Chablis which was bottled in April, and the Chablis which was bottled in July.
I’m always captivated by the direct, sleek clarity and purity of the wines chez William Fevre, and today is no exception – actually, talking of the word ‘exception’ – the last two wines in this tasting are nothing short of brilliant. They are also delivered with DIAM closures – I’d be happy cellaring these wines for at least 10 years! It’s DIAM10 for the top wines here, DIAM5 for lower wines – “We’ve now 12 years experience and they are, so far, totally fine,” says Didier.
2014 Petit Chablis
No domaine Petit Chablis, this made from bought grapes and must, all vinified in tank.
Pale colour. The nose starts with a little width of dark notes that disappear in seconds, replaced by a pretty seashore and delicate citrus reflections. Rather nice texture, just discreetly padded, long flavours, extending even further. Long and tasty and no sharp or austere edges or corners… Really super.
The rest are all Domaine wines:
Lots of grapes here from 40-60 year-old vines from the ‘historic terroirs’ of Chablis.
Not dissimilar to the Petit Chablis, perhaps a faint extra width and a discreet aromatic resonance of reduction. Fuller, more concentration, even nicer texture, a certain richness with beautiful flavour and balance – a peach. Bravo-basic Chablis!
2014 Chablis 1er Beauroy
Bottled in November. 1.1 ha from three different parcels, withh 33% oak elevage. ‘Earlier harvest to keep freshness as this area as this Beauroy can turn a little to honey flavours.’
Pale lemon yellow. A brighter nose, faint agrume. More of the same, but here is a step up in intensity and clarity of flowing flavour – just lovely – there is a modest, intensity-related austerity here – but fun not pain – yum!
2014 Chablis 1er Montmains
3.5 hectares in Butteaux, Forèts and Montmains. Bottled in December.
Pure and pretty, less width but plenty of depth – eventually a suggestion of flowers too. Almost a softer version of Beauroy, no austerity, it flows wonderfully over the palate; complex and mouth-watering. Holds a great line into the finish too – the Beauroy is a wine of line and direction, this is a wine of width and flowing elegant complexity.
2014 Chablis 1er Vaillons
To be bottled today! Also about 3.5 ha mainly from true Vaillons. An early ripening area that’s very sunny. About 40% in-barrel elevage– old wood as always – averaging 5-6 years-old.
Aromas are a little pinched today but this plumbs impressive aromatic depth, and without any obvious reduction. Soft entry but very wide, a certain richness of flavour – beautifully balanced – today a little more contemplative, despite clarity, purity and no lack of energy. Lovely wine indeed!
Not many producers; 17 ha in total, here are 1 ha from 2 parcels from the top of appellation, N-NE facing so with freshness and acidity. Part of Vaillons but these vines are over the top of the hill so not the same exposure. Old vines with a small yield. Decided to separate since 1998, before was in the Vaillons. 30-32 hl/ha this vintage.
A wide nose, suggesting florals, an aromatic that narrows a little as it goes deeper – just a suggestion of salinity. Wide, fine texture a hint of extra intensity jabs at the tongue, not just intense but concentrated too. The best finish so far in both length and width – ooh – that’s a beauty!
2014 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
Also to be bottled this week. 0.55 ha, about 45% wood elevage.
Bright, floral, a hint of herb a hint of green that’s pyrazine-esque. Wide, mouth-clenching, fresh, vibrant a little pyrazine flavour impression too; here is definitely the least friendly – or perhaps least ready – wine in today’s line-up. Intense, slightly austere but with lots of material. Let’s see.
2014 Chablis 1er Fourchaume
2.60 ha, all from Vaulorent – almost half here and half in the Vaulorent cuvée. It’s a selection by tasting with the best parts going into the Vaulorent. ‘Commercially important to keep the Fourchaume name as it is so well known.’ Bottled in December. 50% wood elevage. ‘Marne here that accents the fume.’
Round, sweet agrume, and the first wine where I have the impression there could be wood behind – but just from a certain sweetness – no vanilla. Round, easy entry with some sweetness followed by a growing intensity of fine agrume flavours, the width accentuating too – a wine of confident complexity rather than direct intense attack – and it’s lovely!
To be bottled tomorrow. A little more than 2 ha, from Pierre Allume, Chapelots and Bréchain, this latter parcel with vines from 1936. ‘For me it’s the terroir that’s most mineral, most Chablisienne.’
Sweetness and even a perfume on the nose. Ooh! – round, supple, complex, layered, then waves, mineral but with wonderful clarity – bravo! You know directly that this great wine!
2014 Chablis 1er Vaulorent
Bottled in December.
A little more sweet green fruit/herb here – the clarity of all these wines is wonderful. Extra silky, wide, richness of flavour, but a wine where the flavour still seems to grow after you swallow. The last notes are the mandarin part of a good agrume ‘soup’. Not the friendliest of this line-up today – though clearly with a great future. Yum!
Bottled the week before Christmas.
A wide, almost silky nose. Not showing that much depth but really a compelling width. Supple, concentrated – here concentrated agrume with a certain sweetness that’s then edged with a little salinity. Less vivant, less exciting energy today but really compelling, wonderful flavour and good freshness. Yes!
2014 Chablis Vaudesir
Also bottled the week before Christmas. 1.20 in 3 parcels on a steep slope.
Wide, vibrant – here also with a pyrazine vibration. Really mouth-filling but not with density, with mouth-watering, flowing flavour. Long supple flavoured. A wine that’s not really speaking to me today – perhaps it’s the pyrazine in the flavour too.
Also to be bottled this week. From the summit of Valmur.
A little tight but the impression of layers of aroma. The intensity is hard to take at first but the wine widens and slowly encapsulates the structure with a certain richness and lithe, supple flavour complexity. Extra-special in the finish. A wine that just gets better and better the longer you stay with it – bravo!
2 parcels, one of 1ha the other of 1.2 ha. Bottled in December.
Wide, fresh, floral, not really a weighty nose. A wine, like the Valmur, that just grows and grows in stature in the mouth – this the more mineral – very wide flavoured too. The flavour hardly ends. The Valmur I might drink before this – but in an ideal world I’d have a glass of each in front of me!
Two parcels on the steep hillside next to the road and river.
A more cushioned, almost textured aromatic – not the biggest but beautiful all the same. Fresh, bright but all the intensity is delivered in multiple, multiple lines of flavour rather than one more austere barb. Elegant, hyper-complex, mineral, and that’s before the even better finish. The best finish – so far. Really, really bravo
Virtually all the holdings are at the top of the vineyard, planted by the father of William in the 1940s. Always the only wine in this – or pretty much any line-up of great Chablis that makes me think – Chevalier-Montrachet! But don’t take that as a slight dear Chablis!
Wide fresh, taught, ‘race’. Bigger in the mouth, rounder, complexity wrapped intensity – a big ball of round, never austere, intensity. Massively different to the Bouguerots – whilst two wines apart, both are brilliant. Just marvelous stuff!