When spending some days in Chablis with my friends from Russia in November 2014, we did a marathon tasting tour on Tuesday: We visited three wine cellars. I enjoyed all the tastings and I was impressed, how carefully my Russian friends evaluate each wine.
Régnard – an elegant traditional house offering all Grands Crus terroirs
Usually Régnard opens at 9:30 AM, but for us, Marion opens at 9 AM. We stand in front of a closed large gate, until we find out that the boutique is round the corner. Marion is waiting for us. She explains to us that Régnard has all seven Grands Crus (including Les Grenouilles – I do not understand, why La Chablisienne is said to have the quasi-monopole of Les Grenouilles then – and Régnard has Grenouilles on offer as well).
Marion guides us into an elegant room with a round table and proposes us to select the four Grands Crus that we want to taste. The tasting is free, when we buy something.
These are the four Grands Crus that we have selected for our tasting.
- Les Preuses 2003: Due to the age the color is darker yellow. Nose is rich, taste is mellow – perhaps truffles and nuts, ends a bit harsh. Drink now.
- Bougros 2007 (good year): Smooth , good balance with acidity, fruity (cannot say what fruit). I liked it and bought one bottle of 2006.
- Blanchots 2009 : Toasted bread and pear in the nose, strong mineral and salty taste (Marion talks about pierre des fusils or flint stone).
- Les Clos 2011: Mineral, salty and fruity (the Russians find green apple, while a find a touch of peach).
In addition to Bougros, I buy two half bottles of 1er Cru – Fourchaume (2010, vielles vignes) and Montée de Tonnerre. Régnard is a traditional house and carefully packs our treasures into boxes. They also have an excellent Marc.
One of the Fourchaume half bottles I share with a friend later. We had it with a corn soup. My notes: Fruity, nutty (perhaps almond) and mineral flavors.
LaRoche – splendid history going back to the 9th century, and more sober atmosphere in the wine shop
In the 9th century Saint Martin and his monks had to flee from the Vikings. They founded the church of St. Martin with a monastery, after having received this area as a feud from the French king, Charles the Bold.
The old cellar of the monastery became the cellar of LaRoche. We visited the impressive vaults and admired the old vintages in the shelves.
The tasting takes place in the sober atmosphere of the small wine shop.
These are the wines we tried:
- Chablis 2013: Fresh and crispy.
- Chablis Saint Martin: Mixed best “plain” Chablis climats. Mineral, balanced acidity, green apple, I like the fresh taste and buy two half bottles.
- Beauroy 1er Cru 2011: Mellow and well balanced.
- Fourchaume 2011: Somewhat unbalanced (“eckig”), touch of almond.
- Blanchot Grand Cru. 2010 : Pleasant, balanced, flowery (perhaps rose fragrance), I sense the oak. The assistant says:”il n’a pas encore mangé son fut” (the wine has not yet eaten up its oak) and gives us Blanchot 2009 to compare which has a more fruity touch (perhaps melon).
Brocard – a family owned innovative winemakery in a great setting amidst vineyards
After a quick lunch next door to LaRoche, we head off to Brocard. His cave is outside of Chablis, about 5 km south east and amidst vineyards. There is a great view from here. Brocard also offers a large room for business and private events. In the tasting room I see Russian wine magazines.
Brocard is the largest family owned winemaker in Chablis. Father Jean-Marc Brocard built this production site in the 1970’s. Now his son Julien has taken over. Julien introduced biodynamic methods for a large part of the vineyards. Our tasting assistant explains that Brocard does not mix the climats when producing wine to let the terroir speak. They use oak barrels carefully, just to make the wine softer.
We visit the caves with the oak and steel barrels, and come across these innovative egg-shaped barrels made out of concrete. The yeast circulates better in these barrels, our guide says.
These are the wines we tasted..
- Chablis, Sainte Claire: Green color, fruity touch of green apple.
- Chablis, vieille vignes 2012 (vines are 60 years old): Round, touch of celery, I liked it and bought two half bottles.
- Château Vau de Vey 1er Cru 2012: slightly bitter taste, orangeade.
- Montee de Tonnerre 1er Cru 2012: Salty, high acidity.
- Bougros Grand Cru 2011: I can feel the oak.
- Les Clos Grand Cru 2011: 18 months in barrel, touch of nuts, I sense the oak less.
- Les Preuses Grand Cru 2011: Was in egg-shaped concrete barrel, salty, round. I like it and imagine it with shellfish. I bought a bottle.
Rounding off with a short walk in the vineyards
After our tasting marathon, we stop in the vineyards around Brocard for a short walk….
… tasting the grapes that are left in November – they are sweet. Would ice wine not be a business for Chablis as well? Perhaps too risky, when freezing temperatures come early in autumn.
Our next tasting adventures will take place around Beaune.