Domaine du Chardonnay: A Brilliant Marketing Name
You can’t beat the name Domaine du Chardonnay for an enterprise that produces 38 hectares of domaine-owned Chablis. Founded in 1987 by a trio of friends, Etienne Boileau, William Nahan and Christian Simon, they had to come up with a non-family name. Those are pretty rare for wineries in Chablis. As they say, sometimes simplest is best, and these guys nailed it for marketing purposes!
I thought the best wines overall here were on the value-end of the spectrum, the Petit Chablis and Chablis. The further up the quality chain we climbed, the less freshness the wines exhibited. Moreover as the fruit became riper and chewier in the procession of Premier Crus, the wines began to taste more similar to one another, losing their precision of place. They were the inverse of what I would expect to see from the perspective of the individuality of Burgundian terroir.
Nonetheless, there should be something for everyone, and not all wine drinkers love Chablis’ innate tension. These are very nice wines for drinkers looking for Chardonnay crafted in a more cuddly style. N.B. The partners were just beginning to bottle their 2016s, and there are several bottling dates for the Petit Chablis and Chablis once the bottling season begins.
NOTES FROM JULY 2017
Petit Chablis 2016
This fruit technically hails from 9.63 hectares in the Beines sector, but it is so far south on the plateau that it isn’t all that afar from Courgis. It’s a bit spicy with pear and cherimoya fruits. I was impressed with the solidly medium finish – not something I often find on Petit Chablis, unless it comes from above Les Clos.
Drink: Through 2018
This is by far the largest cuvée at this domaine, comprised of 18.46 hectares of vines coming from Left Bank parcels near Chichée and in the Vallée de Valvan. Its palate is round and full of mealy-textured apples that lead into a lingering and lightly tugging finish.
Chablis Montmains Premier Cru 2016
Coming from three parcels, each about one hectare and coming from different parts of Montmains, this is a rich and concentrated wine with a full body. The orchard fruits and baking spices engulf the palate with flavor, but the somewhat flabby acidity makes the nicely ripe fruit fall a bit flat on the palate.
Chablis Vaillons Premier Cru 2016
Coming from the lower half of the Vaillons slope in the Roncières and Epinottes sectors, these southeast facing parcels see nothing but stainless steel. The result is a nice intensity of fresh apricot and nectarine fruits with the characteristic baby fat softness of the domaine’s wines. This was the most impressive of the Premier Crus in my book.
Chablis Vosgros Premier Cru 2016
Pronounced “Vossgros”, this comes from 1.27 hectares total in the larger Vosgros cru as well as the subsector of Vaugiraut. The palate has a dynamic leesiness to accompany the generous passion fruit and mango flavors. It’s a big and flattering wine style that many will enjoy, especially with its full-throttle finish.
Chablis Mont de Milieu Premier Cru 2016
Etienne mentioned that on the Rive Droite cuvées (this and the following Montée de Tonnerre), he often uses a little battonage. This may well explain the generous breadth on the palate of both wines. This one boasts flavorful yellow pear skin and nectarines along with a super spicy and lightly earthy finish that lingers. The domaine owns only 0.69 hectares here.
Chablis Montée de Tonnerre Premier Cru 2016
This is the largest Premier Cru holding here with 2.13 hectares. It is surprisingly one-note with roasted apples and a dash of baking spice as well as a slightly rustic, damp earth tone. Though full-bodied with a medium finish, the restrained acidity made the wine clumsy. Alas, this was a disappointing note on which to finish.