The Vines of Vrignaud and High-Heeled Sandals in Chablis
I met Guillaume Vrignaud three or four years ago. He seemed shy but friendly, and he was clearly, thoroughly passionate. I really liked his wines. I learned first hand that the way to really get him going was to get him into the vineyard. I will never forget our unexpected climb up some steep and rocky slopes through his vines in Côte de Fontenay and Vaupulent (each strikingly different in many ways)…while I wore three inch heeled sandals and Guillaume sprinted about in gym shorts. You may thinking I’m stretching the truth, but I don’t think I would have appreciated the slopes and slippery rocks of those vineyards quite so much had I been wearing more appropriate shoes. I had to “get” the terroir to navigate down those slopes!
Vineyard visits are one of the great attributes about calls in Chablis. The vines are almost always next to the cellar, unless you are visiting a larger one, and before you taste a drop, all of the vignerons want to get you into their dirt. With the varied slopes and aspects of Chablis, that is understandable. Every crevice of vines gives a different Chardonnay wine.
NOTES FROM JULY 2017
Petit Chablis 2016
This two-hectare parcel gave only about four hectoliters per hectare. Even the precious, shriveled-grape, Bordelais Sauternes doesn’t produce wine in this miniscule volume! That’s a tough stroke of luck for the second vintage making this wine. Frost and hail were the culprits, as has frequently been the case in Chablis over the last few vintages. Unsurprisingly, the wine shows masses of concentration – especially for a Petit Chablis - with spiced baked apple, persimmon and muskmelon.
Drink: Through 2019
Decadently floral with plentiful orchard fruits and a spicy, peppery tone, this wine is polished despite its vigorous fruit concentration. Rather gold in color for a youthful Chablis and showing hints of earthiness, it seems this might be better to sip up on the early side. Guillaume mentioned being worried about 2016 because he “had a bit of everything.” I have no proof, but I wonder if much of that might have ended up here? Whatever…it’s a super solid wine!
Chablis Mont de Milieu Premier Cru 2016
Edging up to a whopping 10 hectolitres per hectare, this vibrantly forward, fruit-filled wine smells of bruised apples and cherry blossoms. The impressive concentration from nose to finish brings on scents of quince and guava toward the back palate. I love this wine’s hedonistic fruit concentration which is smartly balanced by its sassy acidity!
Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru 2016
This Premier Cru shows pure fruit and proper acidic precision to cut through this wine’s almost rotund, ripe and weighty palate character. Mandarin oranges, cantaloupe and bruised pear inhabit the fruit spectrum. Though a tremendously good wine, this lies in the shadows of Les Vaupulans and Côtes du Fontenay as it is less layered, but it is still a very fine Premier Cru.
Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru Les Vaupulans 2016
Woo wee! This wine is so minerally that it’s got a bit of sexy vixen to it. It turns around to deliver surprisingly solid weight on the palate while offering up oodles of intensity and staying power along with a youthful exuberance of sweet yellow cherries and cantaloupe that linger on the finish. There’s a lightly viscous shade to the fruit-filled palate that begs for another glass.
Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru Côte de Fontenay 2016
Planted in 1955, (sigh) this was where I first ventured with Guillaume into his vines with my heeled sandals. Despite this wine’s pastry crust-driven nose, there’s not a speck of wood used in making this beautifully defined and refreshing Premier Cru. With its sunny, south to south-east facing site, it is unabashed in lively fruit ripeness. Baked apples, nectarine pit and pineapple give a surprising voluptuousness to this Chablis.
Chablis Blanchot Grand Cru 2016
Mineral and floral with pineapple tones and layers of apricot skins, this wine is astonishingly diverse in its aromatics. There’s sap, intensity and refreshment here with a tender and supple finish of brilliantly fruit fresh characters woven into a complex knitting of nuanced textures on the palate. Made from purchased fruit, there is just enough bristle to the wine to give this wine jovial freshness and length.