Chablis is an interesting place. The yellow soils are unlike anything we have seen anywhere else in the wine world. Yet for as uniform as the surface area appears, there is a great variation to the various elements of terroir and how it manifests in the hands of a broad array of producers. While people speak of the flinty aspects imparted by the Kimmeridgian and Portlandian soils, great Chablis is more than ‘how do you like your rocks’.
Some examples lean more chalky, some more like seashell in this ancient marine area, and a lot of producers can be successful by simply playing that aspect of the terroir. But the real differentiating factor is how the fruit plays. It is remarkable how specific the profiles of the various Crus play out, with Les Clos having a more floral and peachy undercurrent to Grenouille with its extremely flinty, more savory profile. We love quality Chablis in virtually any form, but there is a particular profile that is perhaps our favorite.
We picked up on a certain aspect of fruit, for lack of a better description, sour apple, back when we were exploring a new label we were quite excited with back in the early 90s called Raveneau. We saw a certain expression of that same apple and flint combination woven through the wines of Tomas Pico’s Pattes Loup. We see that again as a backdrop to the wines of the still relatively unknown Sebastien Christophe.
This guy isn’t in town but on the outskirts. His first property was a tiny parcel in Petit Chablis. But it has been clear from the first taste that this vigneron has special skills. His domain has expanded via rental and purchase, but if you make your bones with Petit Chablis and Chablis Villages, it may be a while before fame hits you. This guy is destined to be a force, but we are more than happy to quietly enjoy his appley, stony, bright, precise and reasonably fleshy Chablis at normal prices while the rest of the world figures it out.
The Christophe et Fils Chablis Village 2017 is not only beautifully made but reflects the specifics of a singular spot. The wine exhibits serious endowment of talented vineyards as most face the Grand Cru Blanchots and sit just behind the great 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre. The soils are almost purely Kimmeridgian stones that are unusually brittle and sharp. It is a deeply savory and fully ripe wine that shows the greatest degree of what a Chablis “village” wine can accomplish.
In other words this does not show like an entry level Chablis, with a surprising density to the fruit that sits on top of perfectly proportioned acidity. It is of an unexpected quality and purity for ‘villages’ level and can play with Premier Cru efforts from other producers. We have been early to the table with a number of exceptional Chablis producers over the years, and we think this is one of those times. For under $30, it’s a find and one that has found its way into our own drinking rotation.