It’s All About the Timing: Domaine Alain Mathias
There’s nothing like arranging winery visits on the road. Learning about good juice while in Milan on a Monday then visiting the winery on the Friday (especially on Bastille Day…and at 9 am) in Chablis is exciting. Meeting people on their home turf is the best way to learn about their wines. That is especially true when the winery is off-the beaten path, and there are young peeps making tasty stuff.
I am delighted that a New York City wine importer, Ian Scudder at Opici Wines, suggested I check out Domaine Mathias. The wines are lovely, fresh and approachable, and there is a super young and very astute (as well as really cute) couple that is working to take the reins over from the dad/father-in-law. Carole (the daughter-in-law) and Bastien (the son) met in Puligny-Montrachet before returning to make just over 11 hectares of Burgundy of all colors while based at the family domaine in Epineuil. The crew will start working with Chablis Vau de Vey Premier Cru in 2017, toof. Stay tuned!
NOTES FROM JULY 2017
Petit Chablis 2016
Loaded with sap and succulence, especially for a Petit Chablis, this medium-bodied, baking spice-accented cuvée has a custardy mid-palate with a soft and lusty finish. Super approachable with just enough balancing acidity, this has oodles of orchard fruits.
Drink: Through 2018
White pepper and chalk dot the nose of this crunchy, green apple-driven wine. The palate moves into a savory, vegetable broth dimension with nuances of wax beans, rising dough and water crackers. A bit introverted now, it wouldn’t hurt to decant this.
Chablis Côte de Jouan Premier Cru 2016
Stuffed with field flowers and apricots, this wine definitely puts on a show. It sees 30% of its time in barrels along with vats and amphora. The ebullient, fresh fruit is laden with a rather exotic array of fruit for Chablis with passion fruit, quince paste and gooseberry. Super classy and definitively fun!
Bourgogne Tonnerre Blanc Côte de Grisey 2016
Only five barrels of this wine were made. The fruit comes from the cherished Côte de Grisey, the best hillside of Epineuil. Once bottled, the new barrels – which represent about 20% of the total cuvée – for this wine then are used for Chablis. (Bastien and Carole believe that Chablis doesn’t usually handle new oak very well.) The wine is nicely aligned with some baby fat and integrated acidity to support the nicely ripe fruit that gives the wine a medium body. The flavors of baking spice, watermelon pericarp (sorry to be absurdly geeky, but that is technically, botanically correct speak for the white part of the rind!) and apricot pâte de fruits.
Bourgogne Tonnerre Blanc Côte de Grisey 2015
Kicking it up a few notches in ripeness and exotic fruit flavors, this has lots of fully-fruited, cuddly appeal, especially with its gentle acidity. It’s also not short of baking spice-drenched new oak, thanks to its 40% barrel aging – 25% of which is new. Well-concentrated with focus and purity, this Chardonnay should evolve nicely for the next few years.
Bourgogne Tonnerre Rouge Côte de Grisey 2016
There are but 50 ares of this wine, and that is immensely disappointing. It’s joy in a glass! Roaring with pure flavors of black and Morello cherries, winter spices, licorice and forest floor, this Pinot Noir has verve and sass. Medium in body with oodles of concentration, this can be pushed into the corner of the cellar and age well. It’s just not likely you’ll be able to keep your hands off it!
Bourgogne Epineuil Rouge Expression 2015
Pleasant like a summer’s day, this wine has nice freshness, well-concentrated ripe black fruits and superb purity. It’s easy-going and not super complex, but it is undeniably moreish in the glass (or tummy, as it were.) Black cherries and anise reverberate on the palate of this unoaked Pinot Noir.
Bourgogne Epineuil Rouge Tradition 2015
This is an ambitious wine that sees 75% barrel aging. It’s a bit flatter in fruit freshness for that, in comparison to the unoaked “Expression”, but this wine has the fruit concentration and structural balance to evolve well in the bottle. So, I suspect this will shake out sooner rather than later. The lingering finish is dappled with black cherries, boysenberries and cassis. The grainy and grippy tannins give this verve and lift. I’m a HUGE fan!
Bourgogne Tonnerre Rouge Côte de Grisey 2015
The vines for this wine look south-southeast. It is aged entirely in barrels for 18 months, so it is surprising that it shows only a vaguely toasty nose. The thirst-quenching acidity lifts the medium body palate that displays polished tannins and carefully placed acidity. The trio transports the wine’s flavors of Damson plum, mulberry, boysenberry and forest floor into a complex and satisfyingly long finish.