With so many producers in Australia ostensibly chasing Chablis-esque expressions of Chardonnay, it’s refreshing to go back to the source. Although a tight, linear wine, this is far from lacking in fruit and provides a nice lesson in what makes Chablis such a refreshing style.
The nose shows some free sulfur at first; as this blows off, sulfide characters and floral aromatics dominate, anchored by bassier notes of white peach. High and low, then, with a definite fleshiness on the aroma, promising a taut but generous palate. There’s a precision to the aroma that I particularly appreciate, each component dovetailing neatly as it gives way to the next. It’s cool, even slightly dispassionate, perhaps a wine for a particularly analytical mood.
The palate is linear and quite steely, with an initially dominant saline note that gives way to fruit, herbs and flowers. There’s a subtle thread of much riper fruit, almost raisin-like in character, that is unexpected. I like the weight and flesh this gives, but the flavour itself is one I question. A keen thrust of acid drives the wine fairly hard, with chalky texture descending on the after palate. This is all precisely put together, the flavours varied, structure fresh and texture just so.
If old wines in general are an acquired taste, then surely old white wines in particular are especially so. Without suggesting one must like these wines, I do feel there’s value in at least understanding how a wine ages over time, whether it adjusts its balance and flavours and, ultimately, whether it tastes better at some points than others. This well-priced Chablis is a good example of a wine that has really come into its own over the last three years. When previously tasted, this came across as tasty but awkward and clumsy, fighting within itself for poise and balance. What a transformation. I believe it’s delivering maximum pleasure right now.
The nose is highly expressive and distinctly honeyed, floral and mineral. In other words, showing a range of aromas from primary to tertiary. What I like most, though, is that it presents as a single, complex note rather than a series of discrete ones, no matter how complementary. The sign of a wine in its prime.
The palate’s greatest feature is its multifaceted texture. The acid has folded back into the wine, allowing its fullness of mouthfeel to present unobstructed, yet it’s a still firm, shapely wine in the mouth. Flavours are again tightly integrated and complex, with more mineral notes, honey and citrus. Intensity isn’t outrageous, nor does it lack flavour; just enough, I’d say. Good extension through the back palate.
This is drinking far better now than three years ago and, although it’s not a blockbuster style, it’s an extremely enjoyable, sophisticated wine.
Drinking is better with company; not only can an exchange of ideas and impressions flow, but it’s a great excuse to break open some of the good stuff. Yesterday, in a Burgundy-inspired afternoon’s tasting with Jeremy Pringle, this wine stood out.
Don’t drink this too cold; as it has warmed in the glass, initial notes of sulfur and minerals have been joined by a dreamy squirt of lemon curd. There’s quite a bit of sulfur it seems; I’m alternately wheezing and smelling; just as well the aroma profile makes it worth my while. Good complexity and detail, bouncing between soft and sharp, like lemon juice dripping through clouds.
Firm attack, mostly comprising lemon juice with a hint of cut apple, perhaps left on the bench to brown for a few minutes. Excellent acid structure; bubbly, firm and excellently balanced, providing good flow and direction without overwhelming the delicacies of the flavour profile. There’s gentle nougat oak underlying layers of citrus, apple, unripe stonefruit and minerals. Intensity never overwhelms, but is strong enough to provide thrust and impact to the line of citrus fruit that is most prominent on entry and through the middle palate. While fruit drops off through the after palate, texture takes a front seat, a gentle astringency creeping in, reminiscent of lemon pith. A lingering impression of freshness and refreshment.
A really lovely wine.
Domaine Pattes Loup
Mealy, flinty nose that shows markedly more tension than this same maker’s Chablis tasted recently. It’s tighter and less broad in fruit character, even as winemaking is a more obvious influence. Very attractive, actually — complex and elegant, with fruit sitting squarely in the grapefruit zone. Highly sniffable.
The palate shows good focus and general zinginess. There’s also a reasonable degree of mealy, lees-type influence in the flavour profile that provides a nice counterpoint to tight, bright fruit character. On entry, very refreshing and bright, with ultra-fine acid firming the wine’s line. The flavour profile is extremely well integrated and this allows one to focus more on refinements like shape, flow and complexity. Reasonable intensity, though not mouth-shattering either. A lovely mineral lift through the after palate seems to linger for an unreasonably long time, generating both satisfaction and the desire for another glass. Very dry, very fine finish.
The price of Chablis being quite reasonable, it’s worth springing for the higher levels of quality, as one’s satisfaction scales, to my taste, in proportion to outlay, if not more.
Date tasted: December 2008
Interesting wine, this one. I guess we come at most established wine styles with a set of expectations that serve, correctly or otherwise, to orient our enjoyment and criticism. The risk is, of course, that we stop judging wines on their merits but rather by their adherence to an abstract idea of what they ought to be.
Take this wine, for instance. One the one hand, it shows all the flinty minerals one expects of a good Chablis, yet overlays this austerity with much richer pear and overripe apple fruit that is quite unexpected and, initially, a little disconcerting. But, relaxing into its aroma profile, there’s an integrity to the way each element comes together that’s perhaps left of centre but no less legitimate.
>On the palate, quite high toned on entry with minerality playing a key role. Acidity is fine and full, nicely three dimensional. It’s only towards the mid-palate that one realises there’s a there’s a barely adequate level of intensity, although there’s a good level of flavour complexity to keep things interesting. Nicely round pear fruit and a sweetly floral note sit astride a core of more savoury notes. As the after palate rolls on, a subtle butterscotch flavour begins to emerge, becoming a highlight of a finish that is easygoing and deceptively long.
A very drinkable Chablis that shows soft, round fruit flavour alongside more typical (and typically challenging) minerality. The winemaking is well judged, and one only wishes there were a notch more intensity to be wrung from the grapes. Not an apex of typicité, but still tasty. I have one of this producer’s 1er Cru wines for tasting soon, and look forward to a step up in fruit quality.
Date tasted: December 2008
It’s a balmy Summer’s Winter’s evening here in Brisbane, and I’m in the mood for Chablis. Handily, I had this lying around the house. This particular wine sees no oak at all, so in theory should express pure Chardonnay fruit and, one hopes, its corresponding terroir.
Nice light golden colour with a hint of green. The nose is complex with powdery florals and a hint of sweetness, along with edgier notes that suggest minerals or crushed shells. There’s also a slight smokiness or perhaps mushroom that I find interesting. It’s attractive and bounces between austerity and generosity without landing firmly at either end of the spectrum. The palate, by contrast, sits more clearly at the generous end, albeit with a firm mineral backbone to keep things shapely. Mouthfeel here is quite round and smooth, creating a seductive impression on entry. Underlying this mouthfeel is fine acidity of the slightly relaxed type, but in balance and firm enough to hold the wine’s line. Fruit is crisp and brisk whilst showing excellent intensity. Some pear, perhaps, and a sweeter edge that’s not quite honey but more ripe stonefruit. I wonder if there is a bit of Botrytis here? Just when you think the mid-palate will collapse under its own weight, minerality kicks in and carries the wine home through the after palate. Finish is mostly savoury and quite long.
Admittedly, it’s not the most elegant style, but I find a lot to enjoy in this wine. There’s flavour in abundance, nice three-dimensionality and a very seductive texture in the mouth. Good value, I think. As an aside, the cork on this bottle was ridiculously tight. Worth the effort, though.
Date tasted: July 2008
I enjoy Chablis but don’t tend to drink it very much. Strange, as it’s both a very flexible style and generally excellent value. Well, there’s no time like the present to remedy such situations, so here we have a Chablis from the 2005 vintage, a year perhaps better known for reds than whites in this part of the world. Aromas of talc and flint, with hints of austere nectarine. Utter typicité, and quite lovely if you enjoy this style. The wine’s entry shows sophisticated texture, as it is both finely acidic and mouth filling. A cool, fresh mouthfeel, very focussed. Flavour becomes the primary element within the mid-palate, and it is very much in line with the nose: flint and tight stone fruit. Complexity and intensity are not especially remarkable, but the wine’s line is hard to fault. The after palate emphasises minerality and pushes strongly into a finish of powdery phenolics and quite good length.A pure, if somewhat simple, wine that delivers a good dose of Chablis character. It’s a good food wine (try it with chicken salad) and also works as an aperitif. Very good value.Domaine GautheronPrice: $A28Closure: CorkDate tasted: April 2008