2018 Isabelle et Denis Pommier Petit-Chablis
There is something deeply exciting going on in Chablis.
No, not the Chablis of America, 1970s, that came in a three-gallon jug or a five-gallon box, but the real Chablis, the place in France where for centuries, Kimmeridgian soil has met the Chardonnay grape to create wines that are, as Neal Martin of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate notes, “consistently balanced, mineral-driven and precise.” I would add deeply refreshing in their brilliance and deliciousness.
So what is new in this most ancient of wine-growing regions?
It may sound strange, but for years Chablis has had a serious lack of talent. Sure, there were always the absolute tops (Ravenneau and Dauvissat) that have never changed. But really, unlike its sister region of the Cote d’Or, Chablis experienced no renaissance of youthful talent driving the region forward.
This is changing with Isabelle and Denis Pommier’s small estate (as well as several others including Tomas Pico, Patrick Puze and De Moor) located in the Chablis village of Poinchy. Taking over a meager four acres of vineyards in 1990, they spent the next years converting the vineyard to organics, thus showcasing the great terroir that is Chablis. Along the way, they became one of the few estates to practice hand-harvesting of all their grapes, using low to no sulfur additions, and using only very old, neutral oak.
The results are outstanding, and they are fully on display in this bottle.
Now normally this is the part of the email where I would try and entice you with a “fruit salad” description of this Chablis. But I want to say something else first:
Chablis is one of the last, great “undiscovered” or maybe underappreciated terroirs in the world. If you drive just a short hop down to white Burgundy, suddenly you’ll see prices double, triple, shoot up even a hundredfold over Chablis. Yet for lovers of white Burgundy, Chablis offers much of the same depth of intensity with a touch more mineral vivacity. And that, my white Burgundy-loving friends, is what lies in a bottle of the Pommiers’ Chablis:
2018 was a great vintage for Burgundy, and this wine absolutely shows that. Everything you want in a white Burgundy is here – fruit, minerality, defined and elegant structure – except there is simply MORE of it.
Specifically, the 2018 opens with a beautiful sparkling lemon water, intermixed with just a hint of honeycomb, a touch of Earl Grey tea, notes of fresh rain, and citrus zest. The layers of flavor promised continue on the palate with finely delineated structure, flavors that echo the nose, plus Meyer lemon zest, white flowers, wet granite and a stony minerality. The wine drinks exceptionally well now, but the length of the finish suggests there are years’ worth of pleasure to be had from the bottle.
I was drinking this Chablis with several staff members and thought, hey for $30 bucks this Chablis works it out. I contacted my vendor, placing a minimal order. Then he told me what the price actually was, and I was stunned. The price is not only right, it’s a steal! While I bought all I could, the estate is small and there’s only so much to go around. Get some while you can.