About this WINE
Domaine William Fevre, Chablis
William Fèvre is one of Chablis’ greatest wine domaines, developed by the eponymous William Fèvre between 1957 and his retirement in 1998 when he sold to the Champagne House Joseph Henriot. William Fèvre began with just 7 hectares and had soon increased this to 48ha, planting widely in the best of the 1ers and grands crus where the vineyards had fallen by the wayside. However the Fèvre penchant for new oak was not to everybody’s taste.
Since the Henriot purchase the wines are made by the talented Didier Séguier who had previously been with the Bouchard team in Beaune. The domaine wines include 12 hectares of premier cru vineyards and no less than 16 hectares of grand crus.The whole crop of their domaine wines, straight Chablis included, is harvested by hand, the grands crus in small ‘cagettes’, with a sorting table back at the winery to ensure the quality of the raw material.
The 1er cru wines are vinified in 40-50% oak, the grands crus receiving 70-80%, but without using new wood – instead the domaine receives a plentiful supply of one year old barrels from Maison Bouchard, and the average age of wood in the cellars is 5 years old. The barrel and vat components are blended together after four to six months, for bottling before the end of the year.
In 1991 he joined forces with the Chilean producer Victor Pino and Vina William Fèvre was established in the heart of the Maipo Valley just outside Santiago.
One of the most famous wine names in the world, Chablis has suffered from numerous imitators. Fifty years ago there were just 400ha of vineyards in Chablis, but today there are 4,900ha. Both the generic and Premier Cru vineyards have doubled since the early 1970s, and now include areas of Portlandian as well as traditional Kimmeridgian clay.
Being further north than the rest of Burgundy, and on a different type of limestone (the aforementioned Kimmeridgian, with some Portlandian), the wines are subtly different in style – a touch more austere with a beautiful fresh minerality that makes them so suited to seafood. Purists believe that only the Kimmeridgian soils, with their traces of marine fossils, should be used.
The outlying Portlandian vineyards are designated as Petit Chablis, although the vast majority of production is classified as Chablis, without any vineyard name. Forty vineyards are classified as Premier Cru, however several of these are grouped together to make 11 more commonly-used Premier Cru designations. The seven Grands Crus are clustered together in a group that overlooks the town of Chablis and the River Serein.
- 622 hectares of Petit Chablis.
- 3,780 hectares of Chablis and Chablis premier cru vineyards (40 in all).
The finest vineyards include: Fourchaumes, Montmains, Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Vaillons, Vaucoupin.
- 103 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards (seven in all). Blanchots, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur, Vaudésir.
- Recommended Producers: Bessin, Billaud Simon, Dauvissat, Defaix, Droin, Fèvre, Picq, Séguinot-Bordet
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
Neal Martin - 29/11/2016