Spring – Wine Recommendation
Domaine Pierre De Prehy Chablis 2009
I think it would be useful to give a short description about Chablis wines. From my perspective, as someone who enjoys a vast range of wine, but is learning all the time, the name Chablis stands out as one of the world’s great names. My wife and I were fortunate enough to visit the small town of Chablis in N. Burgundy and enjoy both the countryside and the fine cuisine and wine. Having been brought up in the locality of the Chiltern Hills in my formative years, I shall never forget the chalk-laden hills around Chablis, so similar in landscape to my home country of Berkshire. Whenever I announce that we’re enjoying the Chardonnay grape when drinking a Chablis, my guests seem surprised (or occasionally disappointed) and understandably so for the cool climate of this part of Burgundy produces dryer wines with more acidity and less fruity flavours than those grown in warmer climates. In other words, uncharacteristic of the Chardonnay grape.The characteristic dry notes have so much to do with the terroir in this locality. The wines often have a “flinty” note, unsurprising when you observe the raw chalky nature of the soil type in these parts, so evident to the naked eye from its pale colour. Another notable feature that I find especially appealing is that most basic Chablis is un-oaked and is matured in stainless steel tanks while many Grand Cru (top wines from Chablis) and Premier Cru wines receive some maturation in oak barrels.
The soil type is so significant and is made up of Kimmeridge clay with outcrops of the very same chalk strata that extends from Sancerrre up to the “White Cliffs of Dover”. When visiting Chablis look out for the south-facing slopes of the hills just to the north of the town, for this is where the Grand Crus are grown. The Chardonnay grape variety is believed to be the first to have been planted in Chablis by the Cistercians in the 12th century and from here it spread to the whole of Burgundy. Whilst this is clearly a superb area for the development of vineyards, there have been challenges for the growers with the annual threat of damaging spring frosts. This is most notable as the vines reach the critical bud-break stage of growth.
When it comes to tasting the famous wines of Chablis it is easy to determine the true composition of the fruitiness due to the general absence of oak and winemakers who do choose to use oak in the fermentation or maturation process tend to prefer a more neutral variety that does not impart such a pronounced “nose” of vanilla associated with American oak. Chablis winemakers want to emphasize the terroir of the calcareous soil and cooler climatethat helps to maintain the high acidity. The wine is characterised by a greenish-yellow colour. The green apple-like acidity comes through in the bouquet, but this mellows notable as the wine is aged. If you can display a measure of patience, Grand Crus can age for well over 15 years while Premier Crus for at least 10 years! Needless to say, a significant financial outlay must be considered for the latter wines.
I would like to recommend two quite different Chablis, one a basic Chablis and the other, a Grand Cru from the Vaudesir location.
Domaine Pierre De Prehy Chablis 2009
Notes: “from a single estate with bright, crisp fruit flavours of lemon, grapefruit and apple and a slightly honeyed, yet dry finish. The wine is unoaked” From Jean-Marc Brocard
Availability: Marks and Spencer
Chablis Vaudesir Grand Crus Olivier Leflaive 2010
Notes: “only small quantities are available of this Grand Cru Chablis. Complex and lovely, Vaudesir is rich yet beautifully nervy this year, its underlying croquant offsetting sensuous, white flower aromatics, stone fruit and moreish marzipan flavours. Dry, 13%”
Availability: Exclusive to Corney and Barrow, www.corneyandbarrow.com