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.

2009 Stefano Lubiana Grande Vintage

After months of sensible pandemic restrictions, the joy of being allowed to cook dinner for a dear neighbour was doubled when they turned up on the doorstep with such luxurious bubbles. Something like 70% Chardonnay, the rest Pinot Noir left on lees for nine years before disgorging and goodness, some impact and power. Starts a bit reductive and green but with the dense bubbles tickling the nose, there’s a richness of spice, caramel, butter pastry, crystalline citrus, barley sugar and aniseed. Lingers with a deep flavour of ripe Chardonnay and still fresh chalky acidity. Not exactly subtle but a powerfully balanced mouthful. Splendid Australian sparkling wine of its own merit. What a great way to celebrate our lockdown patience and true neighbourliness.

12.5% alcohol. Diam. Thanks.

94 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.

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.

2018 St Hubert’s Chardonnay

Another from the mystery TWE Cellardoor.co $75 six pack. Started nicely pitched between the green, spent match end and the peachy sunshine limit of the swinging pendulum of Chardonnay fashion. Ripe citrus, sort of Meyer lemon and grapefruit, a slice of peach, all generous and glossy. All roped together by ripe acidity, oak spice grip and a touch of tangy yoghurt. Really good winemaking. Restraint and craft. To misquote Scott from marketing, How good’s Aussie Chardy?

13.5% alcohol I think, forgot to note, tut. Screw cap. $12.50 of mysterious value.

92 points.

Champagne Voirin Jumel Cuvée 555

Cinq cent cinquante cinq certainly isn’t the easiest French number for an anglophone to get their mouth around. So much easier to drink though. So rich, dense and compact. Beautiful clean smells and tastes of crystallised citrus, quince, apple tarte tatin and spiced brioche. Such a mid winter cheer up treat. Over two days nothing budged from the first phhuutt of opening. It’s been languishing in the cellar for a couple of years, demonstrated by the cork staying compressed after gently wriggling free and just about the only clue to its age. The flavours despite their power show impressive compression and tension. For the technically minded, the back label says so much more than most Champagnes are willing to admit. All Grand Cru Chardonnay from the Côte de Blancs, barrel ferment, five different vintages, 20% reserve wine, 6gs per litre dosage and no malolactic ferment. The last bit still shows strongly with a surge of mouthwatering, appetite enhancing tingling acidity to close. Don’t think there’s a better way to start yet another quiet evening at home.

12% alcohol. Cork. Enthusiastic wifely purchase. Thanks indeed for sharing, dear.

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.

2012 Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Chardonnay

Set in the lush hilly end of the Yarra Valley a bit north of Healesville, Tarrawarra seems suited to sophisticated Chardonnay as well as having a extraordinarily beautiful private gallery which has hosted some of the best of modern Australian art. This reserve bottling from the cool season of 2012 opened pale and surprisingly unwrinkled by age. Spice and oak clear away to let grapefruit, quince and some fancy tickling floral honey combine in both smell and taste. Not huge in concentration but suave in shape and glide. Comparisons may be odious but this grape variety, its oak barrels and making methodology were born in France, so perhaps the Burgundy allusion is unavoidable and just? The acidity has the soft cool elan and delicious cut of its now unaffordable mentors. Thankfully barely any of that reductive spent matchstick that the fashionistas of modern Chardonnay deem essential. Hopefully the pendulum of trend will settle somewhere around this sort of confident balance. Lovely work of modern Australian wine art.

12.8% alcohol. Upmarket Luxe screwcap. $60 spoil at the cellar door.

94 points.

2011 Pierre Péters Champagne Les Chétillons Blanc de Blancs

A very upmarket bottle of fizz from Chardonnay grown in the hallowed Grand Cru turf of Le Mesnil sur Oger in the Côte de Blancs. Opens with a bottle aged, nose tingling whack of barley sugar, dead yeast and lemon peel. Amazingly still bubbly on day two, it just threw off the blankets of age and awoke fresher and full of energy. More hedgerow flowers, touch of peach, candied citrus and gingerbread spice in aroma and mouthful. The structure sets it apart from any other BdB I’ve been lucky enough to share. Extraordinary vice like grip of shining steel acidity, paradoxically fine and pinpoint, carries the flavours on and on like a TGV at top speed. A smooth, powerful ride. Don’t think the ticket’s exactly affordable on a daily commute basis.

12% alcohol. Cork. Glad I didn’t have to pay for it, current release retails well over $200, gulp.

95 points.