Tasted in Chablis with Didier Seguier, 17 January 2019.
Domaine William Fèvre
21, avenue Oberwesel
Tel: +33 3 98 98 98
Didier on 2018:
“2018 – A vintage with one cold night in the spring – no damage. It started very well as there were no important storms, one or two grains of hail but really nothing. Dry, quite hot, volumes that ended up generous and like we haven’t seen for 15 years – 2004 wasn’t so far away but with superior degrees in 2018, modest acidity but perfect sanitary conditions. In the end we have wines that currently show richness and ripeness but quite different to 2003 – there are no cooked aromas – the volume probably made some balance – there was not much volume in 2003. So wines with a freshness that might compare to 2006 for instance. Probably not a ‘classic’ vintage but easy to drink and enjoy – probably very commercial.”
Didier on 2017:
“All the bottling was finished the week before Christmas – not early – very-much as per normal. In the crus of the right bank, it was, because of the frost, a lower volume vintage than in 2016 – 15-25 hl/ha. On the left bank we harvested more like 30-40 hl/ha. The Chablis villages had double the yield in 2017 – 40 hl/ha – but still only 2/3 of what is allowed! For me it’s a great white vintage, no discussion – wines of freshness, minerality and tension – wines that approach 2014 with a fine acidity – I’m a big optimist here. The first week of harvesting starting 4 September was great but a little rain arrived at the weekend and the grapes in the second weekend didn’t have the same amount of acidity. In the year we had 600mm of rain when there’s normally 700-900mm. No maladies and a good maturity but we saw that the grapes kept plenty of acidity.
“My only regret for 2017 is the quantity!”
What a line-up. Wines to make your mouth water. I’m not convinced that 2017 is a better vintage here than 2016 – in the long term – but in the shorter term it is.
Chablis and Petit Chablis bottled in May-June. The crus Nov-December.
2017 Petit Chablis
Bought grapes – there is no domaine PC.
Hmm – a modest volume of aroma, but fine, fresh and lemon-fruited. Supple, layered, easy but with super drive and underlying precision. Really this just gets better and better on the palate – for the label great – almost turning more lime in the beautiful finish.
The rest, as usual, are all Domaine wines:
48 hectares of vines with an average age of 50 years – ‘more than most 1er crus’
Hmm, more vibrant depth, a proper minerality here. Starts with a little softness then takes hold of you – there’s grip, there’s juicy flavour there’s energy – ooh great!
2017 Chablis 1er Beauroy
1.1 ha from three different parcels.
Hmm – more width and more depth of aroma – a little rounder for sure but also with purity and saline freshness – oysters and lemon. Fuller, still a good freshness, not heavy concentration but really a saline tinged wine in 2017 – you won’t often find better Beauroy – zesty, super finishing.
2017 Chablis 1er Montmains
3.5 hectares in usually from Butteaux, Forêts and Montmains.
A much bigger nose – almost a creamy fruit to start – a little non-standard. In the mouth it’s glorious though – driving energy, mineral and with super clarity – concentrated wine – explosive finishing too. But for the nose I would say ‘grand vin’ – a vibrantly finishing wine – so better than good!
2017 Chablis 1er Vaillons
One of the earliest harvesting areas. First organic vineyard for Fevre in 2006.
Also a little creamy weight to this nose. Fuller, more concentrated – richer for sure. This is a wine of weight but also weight of minerality. Full finishing too. Broad and gregariously finishing – such extract. Balanced but give me more zip!
2017 Chablis 1er Les Lys
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. It’s 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. ‘Naturally these vines don’t produce much ~25-30 hl/ha – there’s a lot of court noué here, hence the low yields of small grapes.
Ooh – what a fine nose – fresh and wide – yes! Lots of scale in the mouth – more saline, fully mineral – great texture. A direct wine but not too energetic – such a great balancing act. Wide, contemplative – beautifully saline wine. Ooh that’s so good – Excellent wine!
0.55 ha. ‘We’ve had these vines 6-7 years now and we are starting to see what we want from the wines.’
Volume of attractive aroma – fine clarity – the first with a suggestion of oak, but only a suggestion. Hmm – very mineral, no cushioning here, almost a rigour to this wine – to juicy mouth-watering effect. Such a burst of finishing flavour too – great but be patient!
A little more than 2 ha, from Pied d’Aloup (25%), Chapelots (50%) and Bréchain (25%), this latter parcel with vines from 1936. ‘Always a paler colour to all the other wines.’
Also a nose of freshness but weight – crystalline agrume fruit, accented with salt. Such a volume in the mouth, the first where I sense some gas – but all are theoretically the same. Line, slowly melting but always fresh, then finishing wide and intense with some lime flavour and a touch of phenolic texture. Probably great wine…
Hmm – wide, very finely complex, almost spiced before adding a depth of pure citrus – a great nose. Ooh – narrow, direct, intense, agrume, great shape – not with exaggerated energy – composed in ebullience! Supple, layered finishing. Certainly great wine!
“The improvement here is a big satisfaction – it’s a completely different wine to 20 years ago. It’s a generous terroir with some deep soils and plenty of yield. Since 2006 in Bio and we’ve worked hard to limit the yield and there’s now a balance here that we didn’t have before. There are no well-known producers here so historically it hasn’t had a high regard in general, but we can see now that it’s not an accidental grand cru – I’m very happy.” Biodynamic practice in GCs since 2010. On the plateau part – lots of frost here in 2017.
A highly attractive width of aroma, not overly energetic – but classic sea-shore nose with lemon. Extra stature, but a wine with depth, with clarity – something you’ll never regret drinking. Extra in the finish again – I’m almost eating this – Great Bougros.
1.20 ha in 3 parcels on a steep slope.
An even better nose – wide and fresh and saline but sweetly accented with citrus too – great. Hmm, layered, more saline for sure, depth of flavour – really a deep wine – sweet lime but not harsh. Gorgeous, gorgeous. Spectacular finishing – grand vin!
2017 Chablis Valmur
From the summit of Valmur. Also a very small harvest – as there was so much frost here.
A nose on a lower, tighter register – but beautiful all the same – again a finely citrus accented oyster. Direct, mineral, some rigour here, mineral depth, such power but perfectly encapsulated, covered, excellent wine but for the more patient it’s showing much less width today.
Did you note the change in order? Two parcels on the steep hillside next to the road and river.
A completely different shape – mouth-filling, a ball of agrume fruit, but it’s the middle and finish where this wine starts to soar – of line and salinity – such a brilliant line of finishing flavour. Great!
2 parcels, one of 1 ha the other of 1.2 ha. ‘We rarely have austerity in Preuses’
Hmm, not the most energy or size but what a nose of depth and clarity – even after that previous wines – I’m hooked! Ooohhh – soo deep so delicious, so mineral – there is so much but no pain – so vibrant, so wide so long. So great, so incredibly flamboyant!
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!
What to say after the last? There is width, yellow fruited – less direct depth vs the Preuses but a great invitation all the same. But as (almost) always this is great in the mouth – the salinity is much extra here, the density but without weight is special – fine width, fine texture. The finish is unquestionably great. Usually this soars above all the other wines in Fevre’s range but in 2017 it merely vies with the Preuses – indeed that wine is the more flamboyant. If you have to drink something today you will find more in the Preuses, but in 5-plus years it’s quite possible that this will be, as usual, the wine for you.