Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne: Focus on Chablis

It was quite a rainy day in Chablis on Monday for the start of the 2008 Grand Jours. At the Petit Pontigny we tasted the latest offerings, as well as a few mature wines, from dozens of producers. Following are some of the highlights.

Domaine Billaud-Simon
For me this was the star estate of the event. Across the portfolio the wines demonstrated plenty of acidity and minerality. There were some of the most concentrated of the tasting, whether village, premier or grand cru. Most of the wines were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel preserving the essense of the grapes themselves. Light notes of SO2 intertwine with the minerality at this youthful stage for the 2006s.

A few of the domaine’s wines see partial fermentation in older oak barrels. In the case of 2006 Grand Cru Blanchot, the wine is fermented in 100% oak, 3-4 years old. Yet this oak treatment could not smother the concentration of the juice. Billaud-Simon

Domaine William Fevre
This domaine was another star of the tasting, yet the style is in the most part different than that of Billaud-Simon. While at most times I prefer the bracing concentration of Billaud-Simon’s wines, I sometimes want a little more richness. The 2006 Fevre Chablis displayed concentrated green apple offset by butter. The 2006 Grand Cru Les Clos showed the richness of oak woven into its acidic core. The 2006 Grand Cru Bougros is lemony and rich. It’s hard to believe that it has gone through full malolactic fermentation. Fevre

Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard
Another of Chablis’ top estates, the 2006 Butteaux Premier Cru showed solid fruit in the nose and bracing tart apple in the mouth covered by a glistening sheen. The 2006 Les Preuses Grand Cru was fermented in stainless steel and aged in second generation oak. As with the Butteaux, green apple dominated but in this case was complemented by an oaky richness. Brocard

Domaine Pascal Bouchard
Romain Bouchard was on hand to pour the domaine’s wines as well as the new wines from his own project. The 2006 Pascal Bouchard Vau de Vey Premier Cru was silky in texture, quite concentrated and driven by fruit. Pacal Bouchard

Domaine Laroche
This domaine has fearlessly bottled its wines under screwcap. Their negociant wine, the 2007 Laroche Chablis is a good value, priced at less than 10 euros. Laroche

Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix
Alexandre from the domaine demonstrated the aging potential of Chablis by pouring wines from the library. The 2000 Vaillons was particularly delicious, tasting of carmelized stone fruits with an underlying electric acidity. Defaix

Domaine Jean-Hugues et Ghislaine Goisot
Of course all of the wines in this northern outpost of Burgundy do not go by the name of Chablis. Nearby Auxerre lends its name to both white and red wines. The 2006 Bourgogne Cotes d’Auxerre Cuvee Corps de Garde proved to be a fresh and fruity value at less than 10 euros per bottle. The 2005 tasted at the cellar in Saint-Bris-le-Vineux was almost New World in its opulent fruit profile, balanced by the acidity for which that Bourgogne is known. Goisot

About Ray

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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