Last week in New York, I had the good fortune to attend a tasting of some seriously good French wines. The range of the wines included some absolutely fabulous wines from Burgundy, and specifically from the 2015 and 2016 vintages. A few standouts came up again this week as i needed to fill a few slots on one of my wine lists and i chose to go with these wines. The thing i liked - aside from the apparent quality in the bottle - was the fabulous price and respective values these wine gave me. Now these are not cheap wines, but for 1er Cru and Grand Cru - I was able to add to my lists at slightly lower prices than the items they were replacing, and certainly less than similar items (Chardonnay) from other regions and of similar quality.
Here are my tasting notes on the two standouts...
Domaine Boudin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, 2016
just to clarify, this wines come from France / Burgundy / Chablis / and is Chardonnay from high level quality vineyards designated with the premier cru status (essentially it is pretty darn good chardonnay).
What defines this particular vineyard and why it is prized? To begin with, the Fourchaume "vineyard" is actually not one vineyard, but a collection of climats that are allowed to share the umbrella designation of the famous village or hamlet, nearby. Fourchaume is one of the more well known and recognized of the 17 1er crus groupings as a number fo top producers makes wine from this area. Fourchaume actually includes these vineyards or climats - Vaupulent, Vau Pulan, Les Vaupulans, La Fourchaume, Côte de Fontenay, Dine-Chien, L’Homme Mort, La Grande Côte, Bois Seguin, L’Ardillier, Vaulorent, Les Quatre Chemins, La Ferme Couverte, Les Couvertes.
The other major defining characteristic of this group of vineyards is that they are all stretched along a curving hillside, that is not all that far from the Grand Cru Chablis climates, and shares the same chalky, limestone-rich Kimmeridgian subsoil that defines the Grand Crus. This soil is fairly dry and is actually quite prefect for the Chablis/Chardonnay grapes in this area. The vines are stressed and the soil keeps them from over-producing (limiting vigor), and thus increases the concentration of the wines. The best come from these soils in Chablis.
I found the Domaine Boudin 2016, to be quite extraordinary, and very concentrated in it fruit expression and stone like flavors. This wine is young and has a green, golden hue at the moment. I found mellow yellow apple, and a smooth integrated range of acidity and fruit. Very ripe pear / quince flavors, a touch of phenolic bitterness, but great stone and extracted flavors through out. This comes from older vines and there is no oak used in the wine-making. These guys are making wines form their estate and not buying in fruit. This is artisinal and old-school and freaking delicious.
The second wine I decided to work with this week from Chablis is the Domaine Pinson Grand Cru Les Clos, 2015. Similar to the wine above, the soils in the Grand Cru vineyard are defined by the Kimmeridgian / limestone that is essentially ancient sea-beds containing millions of years of fossilized shells. The Grand Cru vineyard is also broken into seven climats, which are often labeled for specification. The Les Clos climat is definitely the biggest and probably most well-known sections - the reputation is justified by the way - and wines like this one really help to show why.
The Pinson fmaily date back to 1640 (yup, almost 400 years!) in Chablis, and today are led by Charlène Pinson and her father Laurent, who farm some of the most desired parcels in the area. Pinsons were some of the first to estate and vineyard designate their bottlings, and have always been know for superior quality from the top sites. Everything is grown sustainably, as well.
The 2015 Les Clos, is out of sight! Big and rich with vanillin and pear skin on the nose with lovely sweet golden apple flavors riding just underneath. I found this interesting concentration of flavors i called apple candy through the middle of the palate, but the wine is not sweet, just great concentration. Touch of chalk and wet stone, with a little mild oakiness that is very well integrated and stands out a bit through the finish to balance the soft gentle fruit. I gave this wine 4 checks (out of an almost unheard of 5). This is a serious wine.
For the moment these wines are available, but as with all good Chablis from great vintages, they will go quickly. Find 'em, and buy 'em.
Here is a link to a NYTs article on Chablis if you are looking for a bit more information.
Melville Winery Estate Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills, 2013
Ok, so here is a surprise - I picked a wine from Melville Winery...where I happened to visit and spend the night last week.
The thing about this wine though is that it is dang-gone tasty!
It sees wood, but the wood is older and is only really used to impart a slight ox quality, but this is not oxidized, it is fresh and super concentrated fruit. Because the growing season is so long in Santa Barbara County, and specifically Sta. Rita Hills, the grapes pull in so much flavor concentration which simply follows through into the wine, as Chad Melville does not really mess with it too much once harvested.
No malolactic fermentation gives this wine a beautiful delicate feel, even though you are drinking a wine with loads of length and flavor through the finish. There is also this slight waxy quality in addition to the golden apple flavors and slight nectarine aromas, which is simply different than almost anything from California.
Highly recommend this for both trade and consumers. No worries if you happen to forget a bottle in the cellar as the wine will age for just about ever! When I visited the winery we tasted the '02, '03, '05 and '07, and there were no issues with freshness. The '02 showed a slight ox quality edging in, but still quite lively.
I am adding by the glass to two of my locations as a premium pour over the next few weeks as i think this is a perfect premium pour for seafood and spring dining.
Consumer Note - this wine retails for about $26, and should be easily available from any retail shop. If not on the shelf, it can certainly be ordered.
Trade Community Note - in CT: wholesale from Worldwide Wines
For the tech page on this wine - Click Here
A 25 year drinks industry expert, Brian has worked on just about every side of the beverage business, specializing in wine & spirits education, staff training, creative consulting, and of course service. He lives and works in Connecticut, where the number of working Somm's is limited, but he hopes through the effort of this site and its related events, that will change.
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