Chablis is not all a waste of time

Joe Gilmour Thoughts

Up to about ten years ago I had literally no means to buy any expensive wine. Which was why it was it would be difficult to describe the sense of anticipation when a friend who worked in a central London bar in the late 1990s gave me a 6 pack of 1990 Chablis Grand Cru (Blanchots I think) by Etienne Defaix. It had been wrongly delivered by his supplier. He knew I loved wine but couldn’t really afford to buy anything decent. Sadly, as I tried to extract something to like from each brown, lifeless bottle, I hatched the belief that Chablis was over-rated, couldn’t age and was a waste of money. And as I carried this mistaken belief down the road, there were plenty of other bottles that could be characterized in this way. It was either a simple yet overpriced wine of anodyne character, or it tasted old, past-its-best and was a generally flakey proposition.

Of course I only had a partial picture, I was drinking a small sample of the wrong wines at the wrong age – and have enjoyed many great bottles of Raveneau, Dauvissat since. The towering giants of the appellation. Luckily there are actually more than two good producers in Chablis, and the standard of winemaking has really been on the up-swing for the last decade. Largely due to better viticulture and less worked wines in the cellar. The young (and not so young) terriers like Thomas Pico, Vocoret, de Moor and Droin are snapping at the trouser legs of D & R. What many of them only lack is the same canvas of crus to work with. As good as many terroirs are in Chablis, when you look at a map you can see why the Grand Crus are so significant here. A Boucheron is never gonna be a Les Clos however conscientious Eleni and Edouard Vocoret are for example.

Undeniably impressive, Raveneau is so marked by the vinification that it has less of the weightlessness of great Dauvissat, the beacon of the appellation and the (tart) apple to my eye. Power without weight is the dream, and the wines of Dauvissat float around the room they are so weightless.

Which is why I like the wines of Tribut so much – they are really similar to Dauvissat, who is clearly the spiritual mentor of his nephew, at a fraction of the price. I had a bottle of the 2018 1er Beauroy last night and thought it was great – just searingly taut and chalky and needing time in the cellar – So that’s where the other 5 will stay for a few years. Until of course, I get drunk and start pulling them out.

Joe GilmourChablis is not all a waste of time