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Thomas Pico NV (a.k.a. 2016) Chardonnay $22

I hope this wine will be made only once. I write that only because of the extraordinary circumstances under which it was created, not because of the wine. The wine is perfectly delightful. Young gun Thomas Pico was amongst those in the dynamic southwestern corner of Chablis that saw their promising 2016 crop obliterated by two aggressive hailstorms in late May 2016. Some saw 90% of their annual crop shredded off the vines in just 15 minutes.

Given the dramatic conditions, many growers in Chablis – and especially those in the villages of Préhy and Courgis – looked to buy grapes from neighbors as well as friends and acquaintances further away. Pico found pals in southwestern France’s outpost of Limoux (where sparkling wine was invented before Dom Pérignon supposedly was “…drinking the stars”) willing to help. He bought Chardonnay that might have otherwise gone into their bubblies.

As Pico made the wine in Chablis, French government authorities required that the finished juice be declassified to Vin de France and labeled non-vintage, though it is all from a single appellation and single vintage.

The wine exhibits Limoux’s weightier climate yet shows Thomas’ stylish signature in its delightful flair of refreshing acidity. The pleasant mid-palate depth of flavor and plump feeling is balanced by a crunchy lift typical of the region’s clay and limestone soils. The bottling tastes of ripe yellow pears dashed with cinnamon spice. The finish is moderate but tastes fully of classy Chardonnay. It’s a great wine to buy while waiting for Pico’s 2015s to come out, which should at last happen in 2018.