Knocking at (Ten)Thirty: Domaine Agnès & Didier Dauvissat
Knocking at the door of anyone in France for professional call on Bastille Day morning can be unnerving, even when they are expecting you. Happily, this trio of Dauvissats immediately dissipated my concern.
Not only did I arrive right at 10:30 am, I was arriving around the 30th anniversary of the domaine’s founding. Agnès and Didier acquired land around Beines, in the northwest corner of the Chablis appellation in 1986, and they planted their first vines in the Beauroy Premier Cru – with their own hands – in 1987.
I spent most of my visit with their son, Florent, who has returned to the domaine after finishing his wine business studies as well as working in Chambolle-Musigny with Fred Mugnier and in Healdsburg, California at Copain. (Along the theme of “30”, I’m certain Florent hasn’t reached that milestone yet, and his pedigree is tops!) Florent explained that the domaine produces three wines: 3.5 hectares of Petit Chablis, 4.5 hectares of Chablis and 2 hectares of Beauroy Premier Cru.
NOTES FROM JULY 2017
Petit Chablis 2016
This Petit Chablis is a true representation of Beines, where the domaine is based, as it comes from all sides of the village’s plateau as well as a wee bit harvested behind the Les Clos Grand Cru toward the town of Fyé. Cracked white peppercorns invade the predominantly grapefruit-drenched palate. There’s a nice bite from the wine’s acidic tang and crunchy, chalky texture. Though likely best for immediate pleasure, this wine has – surprisingly – a considerably long finish.
Sitting not too far away from the family’s Petit Chablis above Les Clos, the Dauvissat’s Chablis village can be found nestled into the tree-filled valley on the way to Fyé, not far from the Grand Cru Blanchot. The woods around the vines protect it from wind, and the vines see early morning sun as they face almost directly east. These factors give the wine good weight and nicely ripe, red apple flavors. Made entirely in stainless steel, this wine has some come-hither, savory spices on its crisply textured finish.
Chablis Beauroy Premier Cru 2016
Sitting just in front of the man-made lake (Étang de Beines) between Beines and Poinchy, on the way to Chablis, these were the first vines of the domaine, planted with TLC by Agnès and Didier. The wine’s medium-plus bodied and creamy style boasts baked apple and nectarine flavors. It is easy to feel the clay soils in this wine’s noteworthy palate density. The white pepper spice on the finish adds further lift to its chiseled acidity.
Petit Chablis 2015
Round yet refined with rather gutsy fruit for a Petit Chablis, this wine wears its vintage on its sleeve. In addition to the flavors of donut peach, Asian pear and star fruit, the wine is showing some evolution in its earthy, cheese rind-y notes. This is really stellar now but has the balanced acidic punch to continue to hold well in bottle.
Chablis Les Petits Vignerons 2015
This wine is created from a predominantly white clay parcel in Courgis, near the Côte de Jouan Premier Cru in southwestern Chablis. This is the only parcel the family harvests by hand. That speaks to the quality of the wine as much as to the terrain. It’s crazy steep there! Further attesting to the wine’s quality is the family’s decision to ferment this half in stainless steel and half in barrel, though the barrels are at least five years old. The result is a very gastronomic wine smelling of yellow pear, pluot, rain-drenched rocks and chicken broth. I love its textured finish!
Chablis Beauroy Premier Cru 2015
This wine is so chipper in acidity that it feels like it is dancing on the palate! Its flavors are an exotic mash of savory spice, dried mushrooms and star fruit. It is almost full-bodied for a Chablis (not shocking for a 2015), and its split between fresh and evolving tones suggests this should be enjoyed on the younger side.
Chablis Beauroy Premier Cru Elevé en Fut de Chêne 2015
This is beginning to drink really well now. Wow! This is a special bottling of the Beauroy cuvée. It is all vinified together but then separated after malolactic fermentation. There’s no battonage here and very little lees are used in its transfer to 500 liter barrels for aging. The nose starts with tapioca, sweet spice, Macadamia nuts and baked, pastry-wrapped baked apples. The palate turns a shade more savory with broth and wheat bread tones.