Tasted in Chablis, 29 April, 2014 with Didier Séguier.
Domaine William FEVRE
10 Rue Jules Rathier
Tel. +33 (0)3 98 98 98
Domaine William Fevre as we currently know it, is not yet 60 years old.
It was the last of the Williams, who in the late 1950s decided to expand his, then 7 hectare inheritance, by buying up parcels of premier and grand cru vineyard – it wasn’t hard to make purchases in those days. Despite their classifications, not all of this was planted then. Before that, the family had been big proprietors, but chose to let-go much of the domaine during the ‘dark’ first half of the 1900s. Today the domaine covers 51 hectares, just over 15 hectares of which are grand cru and another 15+ of 1er crus – they are largest proprietor of Grand Crus in Chablis.
In the late 1990s, the two daughters of this ‘last’ William Fevre decided not to take control of the domaine from their father, so the operation was sold to Henriot of Champagne, of-course, this followed-up Henriot’s purchase of Bouchard Père et Fils in Beaune, in 1995.
1998, the year of the sale to Henriot, saw the arrival of Didier Séguier, formally assistant to Philippe Prost at Bouchard Père, as winemaker at William Fevre. Today, Didier is Technical Director at the Domaine. For the last 10 years, they have slowly been converting to ‘Bio’ in the vineyards – without certification – and on the right-bank of the Serein, they have been converting to Biodynamic for the last 3 years. “You can make it (Bio or Biodynamic), or you can make it well” says Didier, who also notes that as soon as they hare happy with this right-bank approach – it will also spread to the left bank.
I asked about the pruning they use, and Didier said (also like at Long-Depaquit) that they will slowly move from the Guyot pruning where both baguettes point the same way, to the more common (in Burgundy) Guyot with opposing baguettes. They will also increase planting density from the common 6k per hectare to over 9k.
The barrels used here, range from about 3 years-old, up to 10, but the average age is 6-7 years-old, sourced from Bouchard Père. When it comes to bottling their wine, Fevre are happy with the progress they’ve made with the DIAM closure; 2003/2004 were their first test bottlings, 2006 their first production ‘runs’ and by 2010 the Grand Crus moved to DAIM 10s.
I had to be very picky with my special recommendations, there are none here that I wouldn’t want in my cellar this summer – or, indeed, longer…
There are no domaine grapes here, just purchases of grapes and must from preferred growers. Everything is vinified in tank for this cuvée.
Airy, faintly phenolic. Gloriously fresh in the mouth, with the flavour of agrumes. I find this super-refreshing and without anything harsh or bitter. Nice length for the label too.
Everything that follows, is ‘domaine’ and versus the Chablis average, would be classed as vieilles-vignes because it was mainly planted after acquisition in the 1950s: Most of the expansion of Chablis happened in the 1970s, so the vines here are about 20 years older than the many.
About 5% oak elevage is used here. In some markets you will find the label ‘Champs Royaux’ which is actually a blend of domaine and purchased fruit.
On the nose, this has warmer, riper fruit yet with no loss of aromatic freshness. There’s a mouth-watering sucrosité here and a nice concentration. Modest minerality and a lovely finish. “In most other vintages, this 2012 would be considered of 1er Cru level,” notes Didier.
2012 Chablis 1er Beauroy
Fevre have just over 1 hectare of vines here in three parcels. Didier notes that this is a very sunny location, so it always pays to make the harvest earlier.
Versus the Chablis, this has more aromatic depth and heft with some lime fruit. The flavour is of agrumes and a lovely, sweet mouth-watering mid-palate. The shape of this wine is rounded by some wood elevage, but not really any wood flavour. Long and wide is the shape from the mid-palate to the finish.
2012 Chablis 1er Montmains
A large 3.5 hectare production that is basically 1:1:1 Butteaux, Fôret and Montmains.
Wide, fresh and mineral – though I find it slightly less distinguished than the Beauroy today. There’s a little more mid-palate concentration, though. Again, a gorgeously mouth-watering flavour with just the right amount of sweetness. More mineral finishing. Super!
2012 Chablis 1er Vaillons
Also from 3.5 hectares of vines. An earlier ripening area here that is harvested earlier to avoid getting something ‘too heavy’. Didier notes that the minerality in the cuvée usually needs about 3-4 years to show itself.
There is a faint extra warmth on the nose, but in the mouth this is super-intense, mouth-watering and really persistent. Almost an impression of peach-stones in the finish. Very yum!
2012 Chablis 1er Les Lys
From 1 hectare of 60+ year-old vines that are harvested about 1 week after the rest of Vaillons because they are oriented N/NE.
Depth and aromatic intensity – some herbs and green-skinned fruit. There’s more attack here; seemingly more intense and with less padding – though maybe less absolute density. There’s a strong core of mid-palate concentration that seems to quickly fade but then holds a single note, very long… Yum!
2012 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
Although Fevre have made this wine for 30 years, and also done all the vineyard work, 2010 was the first domaine vintage after they purchased the plot.
The aromatic has ripe fruit that is just a little tropical. After the nose, you may be surprised how straight and mineral this wine behaves. Only in the finish is there a hint of ripeness – but packed in minerality. I don’t just love this wine’s flavour, I love its shape too!
2012 Chablis 1er Fourchaume
Situated in Vaulorent – “The only 1er cru on the Grand Cru hills.” Fevre have 3.6 hectares here; the younger vines go into this cuvée, the older vines go into their ‘Vaulorent’ – they were the first to bottle under this name. They also have a Fourchaume ‘négoce’ wine that is a blend of parcels.
Fresh, high tones – indeed, a certain high-toned sweetness that resembles fine-powdered sugar. Concentration and a certain richness, though couched in fine acidity. Really an extra level of finishing flavour here – a little more understatement in the finish versus some, but super wine!
2012 Chablis 1er Monté de Tonnerre
A fresh but rather modest nose. Oof! Here is the flexing of some muscle, and with the backing of fine, intense but never hard acidity. Super-round with an intense mineral impression in the mid-palate. After that, the finish seems almost an after-thought, long as it is…
Fresh, pretty, airy and with some aromatic depth too. Super-intense, silky wine – but there seems another dimension – joyousness! Simply not possible to keep this wine in my mouth – I must drink or spit. Wow!
There’s a clear, extra ripeness on the nose – at least the first sniff, then it slowly fades, leaving a beautiful bowl of agrumes. Very round, quite beautiful in the mouth. The widening flavour has a certain richness but remains perfectly balanced. Super wine – really!
2012 Chablis Vaudesir
From two south-facing parcels – almost in an amphitheatre – always the first vines to be harvested; “The fruit always dominates at the start, but after 3-4 years it is a wine of minerality.”
Round, silky, with a growing authority. Super concentration – the acidity and minerality really takes control in the finish. Eventually there’s a small creamy addition to the nose.
2012 Chablis Valmur
A little more than 1 hectare of vines, though in 2012 they yielded only 18 hl/ha. The vines here are pretty much just a SE facing ridge. Didier notes that “with a good cellar, these wines amply play a 20 year wait.”
The aromas are round and just hinting towards rich. Also in the mouth it’s round and just a little richer, though there’s a real mineral acidity and a very direct concentration – really long finishing, on a significant diminuendo. There’s a real ‘pop’ of flavour in the mid-palate. Simply lovely.
2012 Chablis Bougros Côtes de Bouguerots
These vines are on the steep face of Bougros, above the road – south-facing but without much soil.
Here is the most mineral nose yet and maybe a hint of reduction – but it fades very quickly. What remains is fresh and crystalline. Fresh, seemingly narrower on the palate but very, very long. Again a real burst (pop!) of flavour in the mid-palate. The mineral notes are augmented with a sweet line of flavour too. Very tasty.
The nose is modest yet fresh and welcoming. Really moth-filling – it’s a wine of volume and dimension yet without much loss of focus. The impression of shape even expands a little more in the mid-palate, which is exactly where this wine really excels. Beautiful focus coupled to understand complexity.
Just over 4 hectares are owned in this single Grand Cru – mostly from the top slopes, and which was planted by the father of William Fevre in the 40s, just after the war.
The nose has volume, depth and width. It seems concentrated at the core and with a little lime skin and faint bread. There’s volume in the mouth, just like the nose, but with no loss of focus. Richness, but with none of the negatives I associate with that word. Wide and very long-finishing flavour. This is like a waterfall of flavour in the finish. Simply brilliant.