Sadly when it comes to the finer bottles from the Cote d’Or I tend to feel like a runner helplessly watching a much better class of athlete energetically showing me their heels. The prices seem to creep up every year with equal clamour for all the interesting wines.
There is one little corner of Burgundy that I hope will still remain approachable, that august hillside that hosts the grand crus of Chablis.
Now, many other people have written knowledgeably about the different crus and the different growers. Rosemary George, for one has written an excellent book on the region. So instead I’m going to talk about the thing that excites me most about the little Union de Grand Crus de Chablis tasting that always kicks off my wine tasting year. The older bottles that the producers bring along for comparison.
Please don’t take this as my not being interested in the new vintage, the 2011s were looking quite lovely, with a great depth of minerality and acidity closer in style to the 08s than I’ve seen recently. There were some stand out wines, Simonnet-Febvre’s 011 Preuses being one such, fair glimmering with white flowers while on the palette all a quiver with nervous minerality. Really though to single out wines so early on in their lives is a little unfair.
I digress, at the UGC tasting all the producers bring along something older for us to taste, a little window into what the younger wines might become, it’s these bottles that really make my day. There’s something about the mealy creaminess and mushroomy dankness that gets me everytime.
Drouhin Vaudon Les Clos 08 brought to mind visiting old castles as a child, there was a sense of something ancient and worn, like the smell of old moss on even older walls.
Albert Bichot’s Moutonne 01 (from magnum) dazzled with it’s youthfulness, lean and lithe with a twist of citrus peel still prominent in it’s bouquet. A sculpted mineral core was paying just lip service to the savoury wild mushroom risotto notes that were probably still to come.
Servin’s Blanchot 99 delighted, wearing it’s 13 odd years of age with some great poise and vigour. Savoury mushrooms and starchy creaminess, a glorious velouté of kimmeridgian chalk. What more is there to say, old Chablis, properly love it.