Not Your Average Chardonnay

Not Your Average Chardonnay

Posted on Mar, 01. 2012 by

Categories: Wine

I have a friend who is very, very French (and when I say very French, I mean, for example, that he is overly passionate about soccer and the invention of the diesel engine and disputing the details of various wars between France and England). The upside is that he has a deep, broad experience in French wine, and an even deeper cellar.

We were talking some years ago about a study that had come out of a particular West Coast University, showing undeniably (!) that there is in fact no such thing as terroir, and that soil has no impact on the flavor and aroma of a wine. “Ridiculous” I said. “A farce.”

“No no no!” he whispered, “No. Hopefully the world will believe this nonsense – hopefully they will think its all the same, and we’ll be able to buy all the best Chablis.”

Let me be honest here and just say it: I love good Chablis. I love it! I treasure it in my cellar. So … regarding the “study” referenced above, this offer – for the Josephine Dubois Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2009 – may be both a result of the lingering effects of that study and my best white wine find in quite some time.

All that said, a love of Chablis is not for the faint of heart. It requires commitment and discipline in the consumer – this is not consistent, mass produced chardonnay. This is fruit grown on the viticultural “razor’s edge” — in one of the coldest places where wine is made! The village of Chablis is actually above the 48th parallel, roughly the same neighborhood as Alsace!!! The risk of severe frost damage in the Spring and Fall — chardonnay blooms early and is harvested typically well into October — is just part of the equation. A cool, wet vintage produces thin, acidic, unripe fruit, with the resulting often simply to be avoided. But a great vintage – like 2002, 2005, 2008, 2009 — without frost, or hail, or too much or too little moisture, produces a profound expression of place and a wine that remains one of the world’s most distinct reference points for Chardonnay.

WARNING: None of the following has any correlation with growing fruit in a downright cold climate and in a unique limestone infused clay, absolutely loaded with decomposed seashells. Seriously. No connection. I swear.

On the nose … there is the rather tart combination of lemon rinds and Granny Smith Apples, infused with the unmistakable salinity of seashells. There is unplumbed depth here that only time will reveal, but I can imagine mellowing and melding until the aroma becomes more of a perfume, showing apple flower blossoms along with the above. That perfume is just profound.

On the palate … these combine with surprisingly subtle but persistent acidity to deliver a beautifully linear, medium-bodied presentation of ripe, fresh cut apples and citrus with a pronounced tightness in the mid-palate and finish, indicating another year or two of very positive evolution for those with patience.

On the wallet … you’ll never regret drinking this one on a weeknight, and never fear opening it for your wine-snobbiest friend with my personally recommended caveat that “this is the house Chablis.”

Josephine Dubois Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2009
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Retail Price: $22.00
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