Laurent Tribut and His Je Ne Sais Quoi Chablis Style
Driving up to the big, beautiful and old stone farmhouse of Laurent and Marie-Clothilde Tribut, I was impressed. It looked like quite a large operation. When no one replied to my knock at the door, I took a few pushes on the swing in the seemingly centuries old tree in the front yard while I waited for someone to arrive.
All that followed defied my every expectation. Granted, I had little basis for these assumptions. It was my first visit to see the Tributs in Poinchy (just northwest of Chablis), and I’d only tasted the wines a few times before I landed at the Tribut’s doorstep.
The Tributs arrived one by one over the course of my one-hour visit - all in shorts (it was a boiling hot, July afternoon) and slightly disheveled in that way that only the French can pull off with nonchalance and thorough self-assurance. (There are two daughters and a son now involved in the business, too.) They were all quiet to the point of almost being shy.
During our tasting focused on the 2016s, Laurent was very laid-back on details. If you look around at various importers’, merchants’ and critics’ notes, you’ll find we all have slightly different numbers in terms of hectares of holdings. As an example, I have six hectares as their overall vineyard surface, London’s esteemed Berry Bros & Rudd notes 5.2 hectares and the US importer Vineyard Brands shows 7.91 acres, which is 3.2 hectares. Frankly, it doesn’t matter much, but some people like to collect those numbers like baseball stats, so it’s nice to offer them. The point is, there’s not a lot of this wine! (That written, the numbers below are the ones I collected on my visit, unless otherwise noted.)
The Tribut style is one that mineral enthusiasts will embrace. Don’t bother looking for primary fruit or big mouthfeel here – even in a generous vintage. The wines are, as I so often find, ones that reflect the people making them. The “je ne sais quoi” of the Tribut wines exhibit the family’s super discreet character. The wines are delicious, too.
WINE NOTES FROM JULY 2017
This wine is sourced from four hectares in Poinchy (where the Tribut’s home and winery are located) and Chablis proper. The savory, leesy, lemony, water cracker palate bursts into a medium and mouthwatering finish. Just be prepared for the price tag of this exceptionally good Chablis. It is as pricey as many Premier Crus, and it’s worth every penny, too.
Chablis Côte de Léchet Premier Cru 2016
This wine is sourced from the center of the long Côte de Léchet Premier Cru, just to the west of the town of Chablis. Though there are three parcels in the mix here, there are only (so I was told) 89 ares. This is a medium-bodied and juicy one with a mouth-filling expansiveness that delves into flavors of savory spice, chalk and yellow tomatoes. The well-proportioned palate delivers a harmonious and intense finish that suggests this wine is worth watching. The noticeably drying finish makes this most attractive at the table.
Chablis Beauroy Premier Cru 2016
Despite coming from the sunny and well-exposed Beauroy Premier Cru, just about the only thing I can associate with the provenance is the wine’s easy-going palate thanks to its little fold of baby fat. There’s none of the forward generosity I usually associate with Beauroy. Also, all of the aromas and flavors lean to the lighter end of the spectrum. There’s lots of zippy lemon curd and piecrust! It’s delightful, if unusual, Beauroy, especially with its crunchy, oyster shell finish. This beauty is sourced from six parcels covering about 1.80 hectares.
Chablis Montmains Premier Cru 2016
This dramatically delicious wine comes from a parcel that Marie-Clothilde’s papa (René Dauvissat – yes, THAT Dauvissat) planted in 1964. It comes from the center of La Forêt, an iconic climat- for this line of the Dauvissats. (Mind you, it is labeled the unconventional “La Forest” chez René and Vincent.) This showed the tiniest hint of oak and masses of citrus fruits, from lemons to pomelos to mandarin oranges. The excellent acidic precision and very long finish shows this wine will take on time in bottle with flair.