If, like me, you’re a fan of chardonnay in the cold chalk soils of Champagne, presented as a Blanc de Blancs, you might focus some attention on the latest vintages from Chablis. A number of the Chablis we’ve been tasting keep raising the bar on complete ripeness achieved with freshness, particularly from the 2017 vintage. A warm season with cool nights that helped sustain the acidity in the grapes, 2017 produced some knock-out premier cru wines, especially among those carefully farmed on southeast-facing slopes, ripened by the cool morning sun.
In our April issue, it was Vincent Dampt’s 2017 Côte de Lechet that stood out: Spontaneously fermented in stainless steel, it doesn’t have the oak richness of a Côte d’Or chardonnay, instead presenting a more naked sort of power, its pure flavors reminiscent of fresh golden apples and scents of meadow flowers. Rather than oak, it was grounded by dark, savory undertones.
In our October issue, it was Louis Moreau’s Vaulignot that showed the remarkable beauty of the vintage. Moreau farms 22 acres in Vaulignot, a premier cru parcel facing southeast in the village of Beines, where his cellar is based. Some combination of the warm season, the cool nights and, perhaps, the proximity of the vines to Moreau’s cellar plays into this wine’s freshness and expressive depths. Like Dampt, Moreau allows his wines to spontaneously ferment in stainless steel. Then he allows this wine to go through malolactic conversion before racking it and then aging it with the fine lees in tank for six months. It’s fattened up by that time on the lees, the concentrated juiciness of the wine falling somewhere between a ripe peach and a freshly shucked oyster. Where but in Chablis would you find a bold, rich wine of this stature for $40?
Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.
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