Classic Expressions of Chablis: Crisp, Mineral Chardonnay

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I remember the first time I had Chablis at a restaurant in Paris when I was a young adult, not knowing how different Chablis was compared to the classic Chardonnays of the Côte D'Or. I remember being amazed by its distinctive flinty mineral and saline notes, and enjoying its elegant white floral, apple, and citrus bouquet. It was such a refreshing and crisp wine, and it worked wonders with the dorade I had ordered. It was then that I became a fan of Chablis.

There are almost 300 producers in Chablis, but only a small number are farming organically. Among them are Domaine Gerard Duplessis and Moreau-Naudet. Certified organic since 2013, Lilian Duplessis makes beautiful, terroir-driven wines. He uses native yeast fermentations, and long lees-aging in stainless steel tank or neutral oak barrels, before bottling the wines with minimal addition of sulfur. Moreau-Naudet is known for pure, mineral wines made with little intervention. Stéphane Moreau, who tragically passed away last year, was a proponent of artisanal farming, seeking direct expressions of the grape and soil. His methods were organic viticulture, hand-harvesting, whole-berry pressing using a Champagne press, natural fermentation, and long slow élevage in vat or large oak barrel, before bottling with little added sulfur.

Other producers who are working following organic methods (but not certified) are Patrick Piuze and Domaine Billaud-Simon. Piuze, a native Québécois, came to Chablis in 2000 and established his winery in 2008. Evidencing his philosophy about terroir, Piuze made six village level Chablis for 2015, each expressing a different personality based on its respective terroir. Piuze does not own vineyards, so he purchases his grapes from high quality old vines. He uses a vertical press, and native yeasts, creating bold crisp wines. Billaud-Simon, a venerable domaine, is the image of traditional wine making in Chablis, offering finesse, structure, and beautiful balance of acidity and fruit. The domaine has 20 hectares of vines in some of the best sites in the appellation.

Chablis’ success comes in part from its versatility, a quality which permits extensive pairing with food. Fresh and crisp Petit Chablis is a party favorite, drunk alone or with small snacks. Lean Chablis wines are excellent companions to salads, shellfish and fish. Premier Cru and young Grand Cru Chablis wines, known for their bigger body and density, can be paired with white meat or light pasta dishes. You can even venture into having an aged Grand Cru Chablis with duck or glazed ham at your Easter lunch.

I love good Chablis and like recommending them for customers to discover. Unfortunately, due to the strenuous weather conditions of the past years (with frost and hail destroying a large portion of the production in 2016), the offering is limited. As a result, it is becoming more and more difficult to find good quality Chablis and the current offering should be regarded as quite precious. Caroline Coursant

 

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Duplessis, Gérard 2014 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos

This wine comes from Duplessis’ sole Grand Cru holdings. Les Clos is the largest of the Grand Cru vineyards within Chablis, and dates to at least 1267. The wine was aged for six months in oak and twelve months in tank. This wine shows a pretty bouquet on the nose and palate with white flowers, honey, apple, orange, ginger and soft saline notes. It has elegant acidity with a great tension, and a finish leaving us with beautiful notes and texture. This is a splendid wine which can be cellared for a good decade. Caroline Coursant

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $69.99

Duplessis, Gérard 2015 Petit Chablis

If this cuvée is any indication, 2015 was a spectacular vintage for Lilian Duplessis. Lilian is the second generation of vignerons to farm 9 hectares of old vines planted by his father, Gérard, and produces wines from the Village level as well as some of the most prestigious Premier and Grand Cru vineyard sites. His Petit Chablis is rife with aromas of juicy tangerine, lime blossom, mint, mango, cream, quinine, apricot, and white peach. On the palate, it is wonderfully textured, showing notes of salty pear, anise, and citrus pith all anchored by invigorating acidity. Long, mouth-coating, and mineral with earthy blossom dotting the finish. This is easily the most complex and delicious Petit Chablis I have yet to try. Tim Gagnon 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic

Billaud-Simon 2014 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons

Billaud-Simon has always seemed to have a super-charged quality, relative to most other growers: more minerals, more cut, more floral aromas, an extra-layer of concentration, yet somehow remaining agile. The 2014 has aromas of lemon blossom, ripe tangerine peel, sea breeze, and iodine. The palate is electric with pungent, driving minerality, broad citrus and stone fruit flavors, and a lip-smacking, brightly acidic character. Long vibrant finish with plenty of tension between the pure ripe fruit and punchy stony elements. Lots of upside for cellaring and highly recommended. I'd love to drink this with rare tuna, swordfish, or even roasted chicken with a zippy salsa verde with plenty of capers. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $44.99

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $56.99

Moreau-Naudet 2014 Chablis 1.5L

2014 is a good vintage for white Burgundy, a very good vintage for Chablis, and an excellent vintage for Moreau-Naudet. Everything seems to sing across the board, even this excellent, organically farmed villages. White flowers, sea spray, salted lemon peel on the nose. Whip-crack acidity and minerality, hints of green tea, quinine, and white peach, with good concentration and a great persistence. This is just coming out of the gates and should make for sensational drinking over the next 5-7 years. Pair this lively Chablis with raw oysters, fluke meunière, or a perhaps a goat cheese tart. John McIlwain 

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $71.99

  • Organic

Moreau-Naudet 2014 Chablis 1er Cru Forêts

The 2014 Moreau-Naudet Forêts is a beautiful expression of both vineyard and vintage. The nose is saline, floral, and offers aromas of white flowers, Meyer lemon peel, and sea spay.  The palate is brisk, bright,  briny, and vividly mineral with a pungent stoniness, followed by flavors of citrus peel, crushed herbs on a driving, intense, lingering finish. This is just cracking and will reward aging. Great Forêts! John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $54.99

  • Organic

Moreau-Naudet 2014 Chablis 1er Cru Forêts 1.5L

The 2014 Moreau-Naudet Forêts is a beautiful expression of both vineyard and vintage. The nose is saline, floral, and offers aromas of white flowers, Meyer lemon peel, and sea spay.  The palate is brisk, bright,  briny, and vividly mineral with a pungent stoniness, followed by flavors of citrus peel, crushed herbs on a driving, intense, lingering finish. This is just cracking and will reward aging. Great Forêts! John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $112.99

  • Organic

Moreau-Naudet 2014 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons

While the 2014 vintage resulted in a number of stellar white Burgundies graced with energy and complexity, some of the most striking have come from Chablis. Moreau-Naudet was especially successful and the wines show class from the basic villages thru the premier and grand crus. The 2014 Vaillons is a radiant example of the terroir, with airy aromas of stone fruit, citrus peel, honeysuckle, and wet stone. The palate is vibrant with minerality and punchy acidity, with smoky flint vying with cool-toned citrus, and spice flavors on a concentrated, tactile finish, which is just a shade broader than that of the Forêts. Lovely now, but there's plenty of dimension which bodes well for aging (if you can resist drinking your bottles in the near term). John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $51.99

  • Organic

Moreau-Naudet 2014 Chablis 375ml

2014 is a good vintage for white Burgundy, a very good vintage for Chablis, and an excellent vintage for Moreau-Naudet. Everything seems to sing across the board, even this excellent, organically farmed villages. White flowers, sea spray, salted lemon peel on the nose. Whip-crack acidity and minerality, hints of green tea, quinine, and white peach, with good concentration and a great persistence. This is just coming out of the gates and should make for sensational drinking over the next 5-7 years. Pair this lively Chablis with raw oysters, fluke meunière, or a perhaps a goat cheese tart. John McIlwain

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $16.99

  • Organic

Moreau-Naudet 2015 Petit Chablis

This wine comes from a single 2.5 hectare vineyard of 25 year old vines with southwest exposure and Kimmeridgian soils (as opposed to Portlandian soils, which are most commonly found in Petit Chablis). The wine shows quite a nice minerality with saline and flint notes. The bouquet is full of citrus, yellow apple and stone fruit notes with some hints of vanilla. The wine has great acidity for this warm vintage. This is a delicious Chablis for a great price. Caroline Coursant

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic

Piuze, Patrick 2015 Chablis Terroir de Chablis

This is a pretty Chablis from Patrick Piuze, one of the youngest stars of Chablis. This wine comes from a single vineyard near 1er Cru Forêts. This Chablis offers a nice balance of fruit and acidity despite the warmth of the 2015 vintage, with a bouquet of ripe fruit and spices. Stone fruit, apple and lemon are the primary fruit flavors with pretty musky notes on the nose and hints of vanilla on the palate. The minerality (clay and limestone) and acidity are quite good. This is a smooth, well-balanced Chablis with a nice finish and a good length. More refined and fresher than the Terroir Découverte, the wine can be served on its own or with a nice dinner. Caroline Coursant

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  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

Piuze, Patrick 2015 Chablis Terroir de Decouverte

This wine, from Patrick Piuze, comes from a parcel called Des Couverts adjacent to the 1er cru Vaulorent. 2015 was a warm vintage in Burgundy and the wine shows it. The fruit components on the nose and palate have a touch of tropical notes, as you can taste a hint of pineapple juice, followed by ripe red and yellow apple and citrus notes. Ginger spices with some vanilla accents are quite prevalent on the nose and more subtle on the palate. The acidity and minerality (limestone) are good considering the warmth of the vintage. This is a “big” Chablis with a good length and I would recommend serving it cold with a nice dinner of roasted chicken or with some cheeses. Caroline Coursant

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99