CHABLIS, France – Who makes the world’s greatest white wine? Is it California’s buttery Chards, the complex white Burgundys, or perhaps the mineral-driven Chardonnay from Chablis?
Chablisiens are rather unabashed saying they make the greatest white wine in the world. While that’s debatable, most would argue they deserve to be in the discussion after tasting the delightful Premier and Grand Cru wines.
Our tour group took a two-hour ride from Beaune north to Chablis Tuesday to learn more about the iconic wine. Our trip has had a great mixture of terroir, large and small producers, and a few in between. In Chablis, we saw one of the biggest in Domaine William Fevre and one of the best known, Billaud-Simon.
Our visit to Fevre included a winery and cellar tour, tasting, and delightful lunch at the winery’s on-site restaurant. One of the nice surprises was during our tasting with intern Adrian, I spotted winemaker Didier Seguier and asked him if he’d speak briefly to the group.
Seguier was more than gracious and talked about the importance of terroir, not the winemaker. He said his primary goal, as often stated in Chablis and other regions, was to reflect the terroir.
After our lunch, where I had a great hamburger, we were off to Billaud-Simon where I had tasted on a 2012 press tour. I thought those wines were the best I tasted during that visit and they were excellent again yesterday.
Catherine Leseur led us through a tasting of 4 Grand Cru, 3 Premier Cru, and the lesser Chablis wines. The Billaud-Simon were again my favorite of the day but much of the group made split evaluations of the two winery stops.
The story about these two wineries isn’t complete without noting they’ve been sold by their namesakes to bigger wineries or corporations in recent years. Selling the family business in France is difficult but happening more and more. Often times there is no next generation interested in the difficult work of farminga nd ups and down of the wine business. Additionally, there is the lure of a huge financial windfall in selling these iconic properties.
Today is really filled up. We being our day by touring and tasting at the iconic Maison Joseph Drouhin cellars in the heart of Beaune. Then it’s off to the countryside this afternoon to taste at two small, quirky, and interesting wineries.
I’m hoping to have a more detailed post for tomorrow.