We kicked off proceedings with an excellent dinner on Sunday night, starting with a sublime bottle of 2005 Chablis Montée de Tonnerre by François Raveneau – the wine, while being on the fuller, richer side for Chablis, was magnificent! Its flavour lasted long into the night and it goes down as one of my all time favourite white wines. If this doesn’t deserve to be Grand Cru, then I don’t know what does.
We started the day by visiting four of the very finest domaines in Chablis.
The Côte d’Or tends to be the talk of the town, but for great white wine with drive, energy and longevity, there are few areas to equal Chablis and its Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. I probably drink Chablis more often than any other wine at home, partly because it’s relatively good value for Burgundy, but more importantly, I simply love it!
Our first visit of the day was with Domaine Pinson. Laurent and Charlène Pinson have created a brilliant range of 2016s. This vintage shows the true flavour profile of Chablis; the wines are very rich, concentrated and well balanced. Overall it is a good vintage but not so good for volume. Oh and by the way, I won the blind tasting; 2005 1er Cru Montmain. It’s showing age, with mature fruit characters but still has life!
We then headed to Domaine Droin who makes benchmark Chablis which is all about concentration, purity and drive. There is a broad depth of flavour in each cuvée – a stunning range! Stylistically the 2016 is 2/3 near 2015, 1/3 near 2014. The real treat was tasting the 2007 1er Cru Vaillons which is still a baby. It has amazing freshness and really shows the true class of the winemaking… bravo Benoit!
After a quick stroll up the hill to the Aire des Clos which offers a panoramic view over the vineyards of Chablis, we headed for a well deserved lunch at Bistrot des Grands Crus (owned by Domaine William Fevre) which serves top end traditional Burgundian food.
Domaine Billaud Simon was up next with the ever enthusiastic winemaker Olivier Bailly. This was a brilliant tasting where the individual terroirs really shone through. The highlight was the Grand Cru Les Clos – this is a humdinger of a wine, I could go back and taste this cuvée again and again and never get bored!
Our last visit and tasting was with Domaine Pommier. Denis and Isabelle Pommier have created a beautiful range of wines which are already dangerously drinkable. The straight Chablis was very impressive with amazing intensity for a village wine.
The tricky 2016 growing season has been well documented, with frost, rain, hail, mildew and even grillure (grapes burned by sun) working together to cut Chablis production by 50% or more at many domaines. Consequently there’s a serious shortage of good Chablis on the market, which gives even more reason for lovers of great Chablis to snap up their allocations quickly this year!