2018 Gautheron Chablis Premier Cru L’Homme Mort
In 1977, Alain Gautheron, the sixth generation in a line of Chablis vignerons, assumed a primary role in his family’s domaine. The estate was just eight hectares of vineyards. It made 10,000 bottles of Chablis a year. Alain has carefully expanded the estate to 25 hectares across Petit Chablis, Chablis, and Chablis Premier Cru appellations, and now produces 150,000 bottles a year. After 43 years of steady stewardship, Alain recently passed the family domaine to his son Cyril.
The Gautheron vineyards are planted on the region’s famed Kimmeridgien and Portlandian soils — gray marl with limestone and fossilized snails. The domaine’s town of Fleys — a village of 160 people — is known for its soil’s concentrated content of fossilized snails. Once upon a time, the inhabitants of Fleys were called Gougueys, which is the local dialect for snails. And if you visit Alain in the Gautheron tasting room, he will mesmerize you with his extraordinary fossilized snails collection.
The family believes they’re obliged to respect the land they received from their forebears, as well as preserve the land for next generations. They farm their vineyards using the principles of organic or lutte raisonée viticulture. They ferment its grapes in stainless steel tanks. After malolactic fermentation, the wines rest on their lees. Depending on cru and vintage, the wines age for months or years before being bottled.
Alain’s collection of snails is the perfect emblem of his domaine. It’s an emblem of its terroir. An emblem of its time-honored viticulture. An emblem of his slow and steady stewardship of his domaine. And, ultimately, an emblem for the painstaking quality of Domaine Alain Gautheron Chablis.
Chablis Premier Cru L’Homme Mort 2018
L’Homme Mort, which means dead man, is a reference to a lost Roman cemetery in this small right bank valley. Typically labeled as part of the larger vineyard called Fourchaume, Gautheron chooses the distinct moniker because of the wine’s distinctive character. A classic, cool, and airy Chablis, with citrus and quinine minerality. Energetic, chiseled, approachable, and persistence, a wine that evolves gloriously with a year or two in your cellar.