By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 27 August 2022
With the current run of fine vintages in Chablis, our shelves are stocked with some superb wines – which can offer very good value for money in comparison to other cool climate Chardonnays from leading appellations in the Cote d’Or in Burgundy.
Chablis’ 2020 vintage in particular offers very good consistent quality. Whilst it was an early ripening vintage, it had few heat spikes, so many of the wines I have tasted from this harvest have been beautifully balanced. 2019 are another fine vintage with very concentrated fruit, compared to the softer lower acid earlier maturing wines from warmer 2018. Other superb vintages are 2017 – a classic Chablis vintage which is ageing well – and 2014 with its lovely linear acidity.
Hail and frost have beset Chablis in recent vintages, which will mean prices are due to rise as recent harvests have been very small, but often of exceptional quality. In 2015 over 300 hectares were affected from frost in Chablis, whilst in 2017 frosts reduced quantity, but quality was very good. In 2021 the fatal April ‘black frost’ hit early budding Chardonnay hard, reducing quantities dramatically to 50% of Chablis’ normal crop - with some vineyard parcels 80%-100% destroyed.
Our tasting from across the vintages showed Chablis in all its guises from Petit Chablis through to the more terroir-driven intense Premier Cru and Grand Crus:
PETIT CHABLIS 2019 Domaine Duplessis (13.5%)
£19.50 The Wine Society
Petit Chablis usually comes from young vines on younger limestone bedrock, but it can offer a great value introduction to the Chablis style. This unoaked example has zippy freshness with rich concentrated fruit. .Look out too for forthcoming 2020 vintage of Duplessis’ Petit Chablis.
CHABLIS 2019 Domaine Claude Ecuelle (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£20 Raeburn Fine Wines
Made from 40 year old vines, this scored highest with our tasters for its creamy mouthfilling complexity aligned with appley acidity and mineral notes.
MORRISONS THE BEST CHABLIS 2020 Union des Viticulteurs de Chablis (12.5%)
Some tasters enjoyed its clean appley fruit and citric flavours, but others thought this disappointingly bland for 2020 vintage at this price.
CHABLIS 2020 Louis Moreau (13%)
Pear and apple fruit, clean brisk and elegant, not overly characterful but good savoury notes. Very approachable classic example from a consistently good vintage.
THE SOCIETY’S CHABLIS 2020 JM Brocard (13%) ***GOOD VALUE***
£14.95 The Wine Society
Tasted blind against other own label Chablis, this 2020 really stood its ground. Tasters liked the neat combination of steely minerality with nutty creamy undertones and rich savoury layers of flavour. Good value.
DEFINITION CHABLIS 2020 (12.5%)
£16.99 Majestic Wine
Hits the brief with its green apple flavours, floral and limey hints, zippy acidity and mouthwateringly dry finish – a good classic under-stated fresh own-label example.
CHABLIS PREMIER CRU 2018 Albert Lucas (13%)
Mealy musky aroma, but greatly improved by a richly layered creamy complex palate. Quite a fat ripe Chablis, as you would expect from the hot 2018 vintage, but ideal for drinking now if you like your Chablis with mouthfilling texture and body.
CHABLIS PREMIER CRU COTE DE LECHET 2020 Les Hauts de Milly (13%)
£35 Fine Wine Musselburgh; Gloagburn Farm Shop
With Premier Cru you start to see more terroir influence from the Kimmeridgian clay – and this example made by Didier Defaix from Cote de Lechet shows this well. Chalky, floral, good intensity, concentrated fruit with flinty undertones and salty notes.
CHABLIS GRAND CRU BOUGROS 2020 Domaine Vincent Dampt (13.5%)
£54 Corney & Barrow
Bougros Grand Cru tends to produce forward fruity styles, but this still needs a bit of time to develop. Hints of minerality with light creamy vanilla layers of flavours with layers of subtle oak notes – and will be better with another two or three years in bottle. Showing good potential though.
CHABLIS GRAND CRU BOUGROS 2014 Thierry Laffay (13%) ***STAR BUY***
£45.99 Raeburn Fine Wines
Fabulous to see Bougros Grand Cru with some age. A superb example from small artisan estate run by Thierry Laffay with daughter Virginie. They own just 7 hectares of 50 year old vines. This barrel fermented Grand Cru has developed honeysuckle and appley aromas, bright citrus fruit with hints of smoke, slightly salty with a steely poise and underlying spice. Very good.
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