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Chablis - Burgundy's Northern Frontier

Chablis from Domaine Vincent Dampt

In this seemingly endlessly sun-drenched UK summer it is to the crisp and the white that one turns once that radiant star has crept over the yardarm...and one cannot imagine anything quite as suitable as a glass of Chablis for slaking the dust from one's parched tonsils.

Like Beaujolais at the opposite (southern) tip of Greater Burgundy, Chablis sometimes seems to have little to do with its Côte d'Or cousins some 60 miles to the south. Sure, the grape - Chardonnay - is the same, but here we are rather closer to the most southerly vineyards of Champagne, the soil is dominated by limestone and the wines resemble a cross between the great white wines of the Côte de Beaune and bubble-less champagne.

The Dampt family are father Daniel and sons Sébastien and Vincent, both of whom make wines in the family winery under their own labels. I have a preference for Vincent's wines. They have cut and flair and enormous style. Every time I open a magnum from my case of 2008 1er Cru Côte de Lechet I rejoice in its purity and, well, Chablis-ness. It just seems to sum up everything that appeals to lovers of these wines.



The Wines
 
2016 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons, Vincent Dampt 
£231 in bond a dozen  Drink 2019-28


This is wearing its Chablis heart on its sleeve both in terms of its aromatic profile and the flavours across the palate, so let's just sum this up by saying it combines a delightful floral nuance with the intense citrus, almost pithy fruit and the evidence of limestone that shows in nicely presented minerality on both nose and across the tongue. Classic Chablis; not a blockbuster, but an elegant expression.


2016 Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys, Vincent Dampt
£231 in bond a dozen  Drink 2020-29


This carries more weight than the above in terms of the concentration across the palate, but it is in no way heavy or, indeed, less fresh than the Vaillons. It carries a similar, citrus-fresh fruit character, plus an aroma not unlike pine needles that only adds to that impression of freshness. A beautiful mouth-filler, this: fills then glides away leaving the freshness behind in time for another sip!


2016 Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Lechet, Vincent Dampt
£231 in bond a dozen  Drink 2019-27


This is a wine that always blows me away with its purity and fabulous definition and tension. The vineyard itself is a 38 degree slope and vines here are into their fifth decade. Great pure crisp apple and citrus fruit aromas meet the taster. It's instantly a wine of which one wants to drink deeply. The palate is defined like architecture made from the air itself. There's great precision and tension here. That tension will mellow with time in bottle.

It will be fascinating to follow the evolution of all three of these stunning 1ers Crus Chablis.


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