Profile: Servin

Update 27.3.2024(13.1.2019)billn

Tasted in Chablis with François Servin for a short time and Mark Cameron, 09 January 2019.

Domaine Servin
20 Avenue d’Oberwesel
89800 Chablis
Tel: +33 3 86 18 90 00

My host is Mark Cameron, originally from Australia – he’s been here at Servin for 20 years – but Domaine servin has, of-course, been here a lot longer – at least 300 years. Mark arrived here (of-course) courtesy of a French girl he met in Africa – she was nursing and he was doing voluntary work – she came from near Chablis. So Mark did a wine course and got a job here as François Servin was, at the time, looking to expand his commercialisation in bottle to 100%.

The domaine today covers 37 hectares and remains family owned. Servin are one of the oldest domaines from here that have commercialised in bottle – bottling after the war for buyer Alexis Lichine who was importing their wine into the US. The Servin family can be traced in Chablis to 1684 – but, as current owner François Servin explains, “My grandfather was also a cooper and we still have all his tools. He was making barrels for Simonnet Febvre across the road because there really wasn’t enough money from just making wine. Today we are trying to make a burgundy-style wine, something fuller, longer, for aging. We’re definitely helped in that with our older vines, massale vines – actually my father and grandfather didn’t really like the clones – they were anyway more expensive!

The domaine chooses to hand harvest all their grand crus, some of the 1ers and particular parcels of villages, but machines generally do the volume.

Mark on 2018:
We made a lot of wine, but it’s the first full vintage that most have seen, with a full rendement plus 13° or more of ripeness. Add to that no maladies. It’s like 1947, perhaps – who knows? – but it certainly the vintage of the century so far! The first week of harvesting in 2018 was great but, but as the time went on the grapes just kept their concentration, so it’s no surprise that some malos finished before the alcoholic fermentations!

Mark on 2017:
2017 after 2016 is much better – I see some elements of 2014 in the 2017s – some richness, a nice energy and good fruit balance – it’s almost a surprise that they are drinking so well, so young, but the acidity is just a little less than in 2014. We don’t usually get near the maximum yields as we have older massale vines – but the style is good. I’ve a preference for the 2017s over the 2016s and I think that there’s a purer style to the 2017s – they are just beautifully balanced. We lost 30% vs maximum yields – some vineyards were hit harder than others but clean fruit was our priority and we had that.

The wines…

I’m late to this producer, but it’s never too late to start drinking great wine – and there are many great wines here in 2017!

2017 Petit Chablis
0.61 ha in Sur les Clos, 26 yo vines. The only DIAM-sealed wine.
A fine and transparent yellow-citrus nose – very appealing. Round, a little richness but more about roundness and very fine energy – beautiful balance. Really a knockout – vibrantly finishing.

2017 Chablis
A blend of many hectares – 12 – 90% around Prehy in this cuvée. Multiple bottlings, some not yet done
A more distinct and more lime-fruited nose – a touch of green herb too. Hmm – wide, fresh, just a hint of rigour but not much. Layers of fresh flavour.

2017 Chablis Les Pargues
A single vineyard but 10 hectares worth, historically classed as Grand Chablis – the planting was abandoned and they re-classified in late 70s, the INAO didn’t take on the geology report and it stayed villages. Stelvin-luxe
Aromatically finer, yellow citrus – silky. A very faint gas, wide – open, not airy – but complex and fresh. Really holds its width in the finish – this is great – bravo!

2017 Chablis Selection Massale
Lost 100% of this in 2016 – always wanted a long elevage but wasn’t possible for the 2017 given no 2016! Old barrels. Also from Pargues.
Also a little green herb on the nose – more like the Chablis than the Pargues. More weight and concentration – no loss of openness and clarity. Holds a great finish, more floral here too.

2017 Chablis 1er Forêts
0.37 ha – 22 yo vines – one of the younger, planted at almost 10k density – the older Chablis plantations were 5.6 k – this 100% tank
Another lime–herb, green top note. A touch of gas, but almost a phenolic lick to this texture – wide, good energy, a touch of softness. Lovely open and lingering finishing flavour.

2017 Chablis 1er Vaillons
‘Definitely the most improved 1er over the last years.’
Hmm – more yellow-citrus – cleaner – my favourite so far. Bigger, brighter, more mineral, more pure – clearly excellent – finishing more saline, beautiful clarity and length. So long an entry-level 1er cru, could it be that the climate has given this wings?! Bravo!
2017 Chablis 1er Butteaux
Came in over 13°, this with some elevage in barrel to reduce that a little. Tiny berries – and was over 14° in 2018!
A bigger wine, much more complex and clean, almost no oak in that too. Much more volume, complex – open – ooh that’s really great – bravo!

2017 Chablis 1er Vaucoupin
‘For me it’s a wine that tastes like it should be on the left bank – so mineral and salty – blind I’d always pick it as left bank – I always taste the oysters.’ Acquired in 2012 with Mont de Milieu – 50 yo vines.
Fresh and a certain core of ripe lemon-style fruit. Hmm, this is great on the palate, intense, gelée-citrus even tending to lime here, long, holding so well. This is excellent…

2017 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
45 yo vines also coming with the Vaucoupins purchase.
Hmm – some similarities with the last, but with more aromatic width and a more present minerality. Direct, mineral, ooh this is great! Almost a little strict impression – correct – regulated – Swiss!

2017 Chablis 1er Montée de Tonnerre
Ooh that’s simply a great nose – vibrant, mineral, kimmerigian reductive – yes! Lots of volume, actually easier than the MdM in the mouth – but complex, and fresh. And frankly just excellent.

2017 Chablis Blanchots
All tank – the only one of these – not yet bottled, probably bottled in the next two months. 0.46 ha times 2 – top of the hill and bottom of the hill blended
Hmm – this is not the biggest nose – it’s complex though. Big – clarity – open – it’s like there’s an ice-cube in my mouth with this – it’s big complex – cool fruited. Fabulous!

2017 Chablis Preuses
30% old oak elevage – this will be the last bottled.
Almost a little reductive vibration – deep, deep. Some gas, some reduction but great, fresh shape. I like the finish – but not tasted at the best time…

2017 Chablis Bougros
A barrel sample
Big, oaked today . But more weight here, a texture of tannin, really a depth of flavour. Great finishing have to wait for the oak to fade of course, but this is a big and super interesting wine – and oh-so long…

2017 Chablis Les Clos
The only one of this series that’s been bottled – last week.
Hmm, a touch of oak but also a floral complexity in the aromatic freshness. Ooh that’s good volume but at the same time drive – direction. Oaked of-course but relatively modestly – it will probably be gone in 18-24 months. Powerfully finishing, sustaining itself, long, long, and still longer. Bravo!

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