2019 Christophe et Fils Chablis

No simpler or more evocative name in white wine for me, oh no, here he goes again. This small domain has been making Chablis of class and quality above its relative appellation for a few years now. This is shy and coiled with latent sinewy muscle but with some air, the quality of the raw materials starts to show in the form of a lingering depth. Delicious array of flavour across the scale from a top note of delicate acacia, like Australian wattle in full winter bloom, sweet Meyer lemon, beeswax, honey, sweet green herbs, to a bass of seaside iodine and old damp limestone. All pulled long on a yoghurt tang and the finest tingle of ripe acidity. Subtle power. Time will be kind, especially sealed with a Diam stopper. The problem will be keeping the paws off the other bottle.

13% alcohol. Diam. $49, in the world of white Burgundy, a bargain.

Easy 94 points, in time 95, village label but 1er cru class.

2014 Moreau Naudet Chablis Vaillons 1er cru

Not sure if complexity in wine flavours is necessarily a good thing but when all the smells and tastes are sumptuous, well then I’m happy to cope with the competition for my attention. Opening with almost caramel toffee, bit of aldehyde, damn cork perhaps? Quickly turns to creme brûlée, then wild waxy honey, quince and ripe exotic citrus. Twists and turns with air, a little hazelnut through the middle, bruised apples and pears, finally a yoghurt tang and wet chalky soil. Power packed but so self contained by pith and mouthwatering acidity. Great white Burgundy from the north end of things. Essence of Chablis, the world’s most delicious Chardonnay surely?

12.5% alcohol. Cork, they flirted with Diam in the past too, doh. About $80 I think.

95 points.

1999 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits Saint Georges Clos des Porrets – St. Georges 1er cru

A special time of year, well, it is when you open a Burgundy from last century. One of the original growers who took to bottling their own in the 1920s and are still making austere reductive wine from low yields with little new oak flavour. Unfortunate bad press years ago from Americans favouring sweet new oak and extract has served to keep Gouges’ prices relatively stable, thank Bacchus. This bottle opened with reservations about being shaken from its sleep and little to say at first. Despite its age, it gained momentum on day two. Deep into the mouthful, mushy ripe wild strawberry, dark sour cherries in game meat sauce, blood and almond paste; all brightly lit by a startlingly wild geology. The French say sauvage and they’re right. Amazing rocks, stones and earth. A tiny bit of bilge water old oak doesn’t detract from driving, life affirming acidity and melting finest sandpaper tannin. Fairly convincing argument that there’s something to this terroir thing.

13% alcohol. Cork. About €40 from Lavinia some years ago.

94 points eventually and maybe just how NSG is supposed to be.

2016 Louis Jadot Côte de Nuits Villages Le Vaucrain

Apart from the odd Bourgogne, there’s been little Burgundy buying around here since the 2005 vintage when already high prices started to get just daft. When a normally sensible wine buying friend returned from a frenzy of a wholesaler’s warehouse clearance sale buried under a mountain of bottles with a average price of about $15, it would have been rude not to accept an offer to split the spoils, just not sure where to put it all? Always had a soft spot for Jadot, who make something like 240 different wines each year without seeming to resort to much rationalist blending and industrial safety. Le Vaucrain is a single vineyard holding in Comblanchien where the Nuits Saint Georges vines give way to limestone quarries. Bit of reduction and lift to start which clear quickly. Then there’s a dark stony edge here that maybe reflects those NSG preconceptions. Dark dried cherries, over ripe wild strawberry and a whiff of roses, all cut by suave acidity and firm grape skin tannin. A touch of earthy mulch to season the cut of a mineral grip. Improving over two days, those cool soft tingles, perfect ripeness and that composed freshness which can clearly mark Burgundy are much in evidence. A delicious surprise, though a current RRP pushing $100 makes it perhaps not the best value Pinot Noir on the planet.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. Thanks D and finewineco.com for such a bargain.

93 very suave points.

2014 Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils Chablis Vaucoupin 1er Cru

Ah Chablis, tickles a fancy like no other Chardonnay can. A first scribbled impression, forgive the hyperbole….like a cool stone bedded country stream, through meadows of spring flowers, bees awaxing fragrant honey, floating downstream to dream of weightless graces, to a breath of the iodine sea. There, complete nonsense. Nonetheless a traditional Chablis in the best sense. Mouthfilling amount of pithy solid grape bits to chew, champion lactic acidity, rich in flowers, honeycomb – the waxy hive type not the sugared confection, a paste of fresh hazelnut and almond, a warm peck on the cheek of a rosy apple, cut and browning. All evaporates in a fragrant puff of acidity and stony grip. OK, a hopeless infatuation.

12.5% alcohol. Cork, no romance there. 580 gms of glass. $70 brave bid.

95 points, no objectivity whatsoever.

1999 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er cru Les Mitans

A spoil for a very quiet dark Saturday night in Melbourne under curfew. For once the cork was still firm, taut and came out in one piece. Good omen. The contents of the bottle? Very ripe wild strawberries like they sell in those small punnets in French markets. Some rich cherry extract and a good amount of sweet autumnal leaf litter from the twenty years slumber. All very of the essence with no sweetness, each sip leaving a haunting perfume in the retro nasal canyons. Sometimes a good sized nose is a blessing. Great adult flavours built on a firm but lithe backbone of austere chalky acidity and powder fine tannin. Just beautiful.

12.50% alcohol, size it not everything. Cork. 593 gms of glass. Maybe about €40 years ago in Paris.

96 points.

1999 Domaine Perrot Minot Charmes Chambertin

There’s not many 1999s left now in the cellar. This one from the shelves of Lavinia on Boulevard Madeleine. Happy days. Still red in colour and oaky in smell. Lots of new oak does seem to lead to strong colours and a sanitary outcome, lots of furry tannin disrupting the finish too. As well as the oak which it must be admitted is very good, those Burgundians know how to choose being so close to the best coopers, there’s loads of other evocative smells and flavours. Something like an old English pub, worn leather, a smoky open fire and a background of warm alcoholic haze. Buried under the oak and extraction are deeply meaningful notes of kirsch, strawberry liqueur, dark blood orange juice, cocoa powder and an indescribable essence of a fine autumn evening. So pure, dense and achingly sweet. Amazing fruit from a vineyard a road width’s away from Chambertin itself. The nineties were a time when maximum extraction seemed the goal all the way from Central Otago to the Côte d’Or. Some grapes survived the thrashing better than others.

13% alcohol. Cork which broke and crumbled of course. Need more practice with old Burgundy! Memory fails about price but I can remember a €100 limit.

95 points.

2017 Patrick Piuze Chablis Les Séchets 1er Cru

Maybe complexity in wine can be good or not so good? Under and over ripeness, obvious oak or plain faults could all bring complexity, this has none of those things but it does have a kaleidoscopic range of beautiful flavours. From a vineyard in the larger premier cru of Vaillons noted for its floral perfume, you’d barely need a sense of smell to agree. My scribbled notes, flowers! Wattle in bloom, waxy honey, muddy chalk. Precise and powerful laser beam of ripe citrus, perfume and drive, perfect ripeness just floats off into the distance. Dense and compact too. That was just the first day. After twenty four hours, it gets even more florid….more sea salty, candied Meyer lemon, almost bergamot builds in the mouth, perfect seasoning of oak caramel and a great sweep of pebbly, dry, ripe acidity sweeps through leaving the perfume of a perfect spring day in a flower and honey strewn meadow. Notwithstanding the fanciful nonsense, this is a brilliant drink.

12.5% alcohol. Cork, groan, a screw cap and ten years on, I wish. $110 rrp.

95 points, more to come.

1999 Domaine Alain Burguet Gevrey Chambertin 1er cru Les Champeaux

Not much left in the cellar from the last millennium, now there’s one less. Opened a little red brick coloured but gained a deeper garnet as it aired and rid itself of some still residual sulphur. Still fresh and fragrant. Wild strawberry, perfumed geranium, clove, aniseed and freshly dug sweet loam. Cherry liqueur and chocolate. Weirdly reminiscent of a Bass Phillip when on form in smell and an unfiltered cloudiness. A little smoky reduction still drifts in and out after twenty years of age. Delicious tang of blood orange juice acidity and those so cultured Côte d’Or tannins, now soft and mellow. Les Champeaux is up on the Combe in Gevrey and should be a bit cooler in theory than the lower burly crus. Well, true enough if the wine’s so beautifully fresh and supports the idea as it does here. What is undeniable is the lingering fragrance of a superbly decadent old Burgundy. Another of those hand luggage bottles before the world changed in 2001. Now the idea of any luggage at all seems exotic.

13% alcohol. Long squishy cork just doing the job. Was about €40 from old Caves Augé.

95 points.

2017 Domaine Oudin Chablis 1er cru Vaugiraut

A weekend treat for this Chablis lover. Opened a little bit yeasty and wild but soon calmed down as it took a breath of air. Oh yes, this has all those Chablis smells and flavours of ripe citrus, maybe quince, creamy yeast lees, a yoghurt sourness and that ocean spray. Natural and relaxed. The concentration of flavour ramps up as it glides on flinty rails through the mouth, flaunting it’s premier cru caste. The flavours swell and linger, carried along on a cool watery stream of chalk and pebbles. Oddly this may be a real memory of smell and taste. Growing up in Wessex, my early summer holidays were often spent splashing in a gravelly chalk river. So immersed on a rare hot day that I probably swallowed a fair drink. Delicious Chablis will do these days.

13% alcohol. Cork, boo. $60.

94 points.