Chablis’ Domaine Oudin with Nathalie Oudin
“Our vineyards are on the left and right banks, all near Chichée,” said Nathalie Oudin. I immediately sensed that Nathalie might be sizing me up.
Luckily, I speak “Chablisien” and understood that the family’s vines are clustered around the pretty village of Chichée, about a five-minute drive to the southeast of the town of Chablis. Different to the more southern, Chichée-based Oudins, families further north might just be devoted to just one side or the other of the river, especially given the small size of the Oudin estate.
Chichée is nestled against one of the lesser-known hills of Chablis that births a bit of Petit Chablis, plenty of village wine and a smidgeon of Premier Cru from the Vosgros appellation. (The Oudin family’s Vaugiraut wine is from the northern part of that small, Premier Cru designation of Vosgros.)
We tasted outside. Though mid-day in late July, it was fairly cool, and there wasn’t much wind. The heritage breed chickens pecked around us in the expansive yard and, toward the end of the tasting, the local school kids started jumping into inner tubes on this still portion of the Serein. (If I’d had the time, I’d have snatched a glass of Oudin Chablis and floated around in one. That backyard is the definition of bucolic.)
Nathalie and her sister Isabelle moved with their parents from the Parisian suburbs. Their mother had been an assistant in a high-powered firm and their dad was an aeronautic engineer.
I did not get the sense that the sisters were thrilled to move to sleepy Chablis so that their parents could farm two hectares of Chardonnay vines. Nonetheless, those same girls, now women, are understandably proud to be taking over the family estate today, now expanded to nine hectares.
Today the Oudin sisters export sixty percent of their wine. They are certainly not among the more inexpensive Chablis, even at the village level, and they should not be considering the small size of this family-driven domaine. With this high caliber of quality, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the export markets quibbling over their allocations. These are smart wines that are very attentively crafted.
WINE NOTES FROM JULY 2017
Bright, minerally and smelling of a wet riverbed, this assiduously balanced wine was picked on three different days and hand-sorted, too. It is a grandly classic Chablis with green apple notes to start, a sandy, dry texture in the center palate and a dry, salted lemon finish. Especially as this isn’t particularly fruit-driven, there shouldn’t be the evident drop-off of youthful top notes one tends to see around year three in Chablis village wines. The wine should keep on humming as is. Stay tuned!
Chablis Les Serres 2016
This wine was first bottled in 1999. Nathalie admitted to not making it one year, but she acquiesced when her father was thoroughly displeased with her strategy. Les Serres is 30 to 70 year old vine fruit dosed with some Premier Cru from Vaucoupin and Vaugiraut. This bottling was aged on lees two years before bottling after its native yeast fermentation. It’s a stunner with broad shoulders supporting its mid-weight and nicely concentrated palate of piecrust, lemon custard and green cantaloupe rind. The finish lingers and begs for a subtle complement at the table.
Chablis Vaugiraut Premier Cru 2016
There are two parcels in this vineyard, but with very similar ages of 35 and 37 years. One-third are from massale and two-thirds are from clonal selections. Though it shouldn’t be surprising with Vaugiraut’s west-facing exposition, this wine has an astonishingly silky texture for Chablis (which tends to be a bit crunchier) as well as good heft that wraps itself into a lingering, apple and golden raisin finish. Sea scallops, please!
Chablis Vaucoupins Premier Cru 2016
Hailing from vines planted not long after the Second World War (1949 and 1950) and planted towards a top ridge of Vaucoupins Premier Cru, this wine is a study of elegance and finesse. It all comes from one parcel, and it tastes of white peach and cherimoya. It’s astonishingly elegant and finishes long with succulent and diverse flavors accompanied by scintillating acidity.