Chablis to Chassagne: Chardonnay in 5 days


My preparation for a week’s tasting of the 2012s in Burgundy was a day’s carving course at Simpsons on the Strand, before hopping on the Eurostar to head off to Chablis.

A truly great way to spend a Sunday learning how to slice skilfully every form of joint possible, followed by roast Beef and Yorkshire pud with family and friends as they admired my new found skill…. a joint birthday present to my brother in law and I from my mother, maybe she was trying to tell us something! A truly wonderful 2 hours transforming us from hackers to Master Carvers, followed by road beef and Claret in abundance before getting on the Eurostar.

Rumours have been strong that despite a tiny crop, the potential for the 2012 vintage was very high indeed. Focusing on the whites, I wasn’t disappointed. There are some very lovely wines indeed. Starting in Chablis two things struck me; their beautiful intensity and vibrancy and secondly, sadly there isn’t going to be enough to go around. With yields down as much as 30 per cent there will be huge pressure on these beautiful wines.

I love Chablis for its brightness of fruit, drive and intensity. It also offers as good a price quality ratio as any wine producing region in the world. Benoit Droin’s wines typify this style and he has made a fabulous range. At Billaud-Simon they were hugely excited as, after the 5 stars awarded to Raveneau and Dauvissat, they were the only domaine in the appellation to be awarded 4 stars in the Guide Hachette.


Domaine Pinson have some of the best positioned vineyards in the village and therefore highlight the individual differences of the great 1er and Grand Crus. I finished with the delightful Denis Pommier, tasting their 2011 and 2012’s. This is a young domaine undoubtedly going places fast.

Further south, in the Cote de Beaune, their only real complaint is volume. But as so often is the case low yields and high quality go hand in hand. In Meursault, Jean-Philippe Fichet reckons he is down 50 per cent but the end product is delicious. The wines have some of the volume without the excess of the 2009s aided by a lovely race of acidity uplifting the palate on the finish. I didn’t have a single disappointment at any of our domaines and I look forward to re-tasting in November.

I then headed south to Macon and Beaujolais. I was particularly struck by the stunning 2011 Brouilly at Domaine des Roches Bleues, highlighting why the loss of favour for the wines of Beaujolais is one of the great tragedies of the modern wine world. There are some gorgeous wines here, bright, generous and rewarding and the 2011 vintage is huge success for the region and Gamay in particular.

A quick reflection with more to follow in a few weeks’ time when we head back to taste the reds…