2016 Chablis, Les Clos, Grand Cru, Domaine William Fèvre, Burgundy
Neal Martin - 31/08/2017
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.
Chablis Grand Cru
These are the biggest, richest and most complex Chablis, which cover a total of 100 hectares – just two percent of the appellation. At their best, they can match the quality of a Grand Cru Chardonnay from the Côte d’Or, yet often at half the price.
They may lack their southern neighbour’s opulence, but they share the latter’s intensity and have a nervy minerality that set them apart. Inexpressive in youth, they should ideally be aged for 10 years, and can mature for up to 30 years. Styles vary according to producer, with some maturing and fermenting in stainless steel while others use barrels, sometimes even new oak.
All seven Grands Crus are grouped together on a single south-west-facing hill just north of the town. La Moutonne is an unofficial eighth Grand Cru straddling Les Preuses and Vaudésir, and is allowed to use the name on its label. The rich, fine Les Clos and the intense, spicy Vaudésir are generally considered to be the best, and are certainly the most full-bodied.
The delicate Blanchots and the racy Grenouilles are the most aromatic, while Les Preuses is full, complex and the least minerally. Valmur is fragrant, rich and smooth while La Moutonne is elegant and incredibly expressive. The vibrant Bougros tends to be the junior member of the group, but in the right hands can also be very good.
Recommended producers: Billaud-Simon, Duplessis, J.-P. & Benoit Droin.
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.
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This has a very classic Chablis nose, combined with white peach and just a hint of oak. Incredible power and persistence, tension and energy; it’s still a baby. Spine-tingling with plenty of chewy phenolic matière; this needs time to knit together, but all of the elements are there in spades. Drink 2025-2037.
Adam Bruntlett, Burgundy Buyer
This leading Chablis domaine was developed by the eponymous William Fèvre between 1957 and his retirement in 1998 when he sold to the Champagne House Joseph Henriot. Since then the wines have been 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 Grands Crus. Everything is harvested by hand. The Premier Cru wines are vinified in 30 to 50 percent oak, the Grands Crus 50 to 70 percent, all in oneyear-old barrels from Bouchard. Didier Séguier described 2016 as a complicated vintage which was saved by a warm, dry summer and a cool northerly wind just before harvest, allowing the grapes to ripen without achieving high sugar levels. The resultant small grapes have given concentrated wines of great finesse. He feels this is a vintage which will produce wines of good early approachability, while also being interesting to serious Chablis lovers who will appreciate the mineral backbone. Keen to preserve this minerality, Dider has not used any new oak this year.
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