Burgundy is all about limestone. Ask a vigneron about the soils in so-and-so vineyard and the common response is argilo-calcaire i.e. clay-limestone. It's a large part of what makes the wines of Burgundy the glorious things they are.
Go to Chablis and this phenomenon intensifies. Here we see the effects of Kimmeridgian limestone, a rock created when a vast portion of this landmass was under seawater. And that water was crawling with molluscs, the dead structures of which sank to the bottom and fossilised into the sort of rock that makes Chardonnay sit up and start to lick its lips.
2016 was - like the Côte d'Or to the south - devastated by April frosts. Yet what remains has a great deal to interest the lover of the wines of this region. These are ripe wines of good tension. Most won't need prolonged cellarage before they can be enjoyed. Most importantly, they are delicious!
The Wines2016 Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre, William Fèvre
£201 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-29
Extraordinary nose exhibiting fruit that majors on citrus, especially lemon, pure and pitched high, through which one can smell an almost oriental spice coming. The palate is reserved, backward even. But there's superb sustain and great chalky mineral wealth. This is superb: elegant and detailed with a saline/apple, juicy push.
2016 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros, William Fèvre
£246 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-29
Aromas here are dense, of spice and herbs and apple (Golden Delicious) fruit. And the palate is dense, too, with a firm, mineral core. This is backward; indeed, it is a touch closed. And it is wonderfully juicy in the mouth, with a mineral texture like fine tilth. There's a real push through this and very firm lemon acidity held within. Superb cut to the finish as well.
2016 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir, William Fèvre
£315 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-30
A scented nose of sunny-ripe orchard fruit. This has a pretty, floral, summery aspect to it and there's something very mineral about the aromas. The palate is reserved, very direct and mineral. And there follows great piquant mineral sustain. This is a superb, very long wine with a complete, busy and detailed finish.
2016 Chablis Grand Cru Preuses, William Fèvre
£324 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-30
There's dry spice and a touch of smokiness about the complex but somehow airy nose. And there's a subtle note of herbs. Palate is rich and dense and very cool, of apple fruit. This has no sweetness about it at all, but is full and long and displays integrated minerality. This becomes spicy with grip and is dense to the very death. Super stuff.
2016 Chablis Grand Cru Côte Bouguerots, William Fèvre
£321 in bond per 6 Drink 2020-30
The nose shows off a lovely scent of white flowers. And there's a rhubarb freshness and a warm spiciness. It's a dense set of aromas that include russet apples. And although this is quite approachable to taste, it is also quickly fresh. Delicious apple fruit has a very firm and spicy core that pushes piquantly to the very long finish. A lovely thing with a juicy, green apple finish.
2016 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, William Fèvre
£396 in bond per 6 Drink 2021-32
One swirls elicits floral, pure, dense aromas of ripe apple fruit. There's a saline, nutty nuance over whcih hovers apple blossom. It's a very pretty thing to smell. It enters the mouth delicate and lacy, very pure, of apple and pear fruit. It has very mineral, fine earth at the core. A long thing, becoming juicy. An elegant, feminine example. Superb ending here: spicy and minerally piquant with grip. Wow.
And a pair I did not, alas, manage to taste:
2016 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu, William Fèvre
£180 in bond per 6 Drink 2018-26
"More restrained than both their Vaillons and Les Lys. Fuller texture too, with thickness on the palate that seems almost clumsy by comparison. Yet there is plenty of flavour and length here too." jancisrobinson.com
2016 Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent, William Fèvre
£222 in bond per 6 Drink 2018-26
"Tangy and rich, but without the same definition as their Montée de Tonnerre. Full bodied, and while the acid is certainly present, the palate is fat overall. A good demonstration of the fuller side of Chablis. Attractive flinty notes on the finish." jancisrobinson.com
Email caspar[at]boweswine.co.uk to order these wines