Chablis, Montée de Tonnerre, 1er Cru, 2011

  Domaine Moreau Naudet

Contains Sulphites.

About Domaine Moreau Naudet

Stéphane Moreau has been in charge of this family Domaine for well over a decade now and quality has soared since he took the reins. Admired by many of his peers and fellow vignerons, from Graillot in the Rhone to Vincent Dauvissat closer to home, Stephane Moreau makes intense Chablis of great purity but for many years did so under the radar. No doubt thanks to some fine reviews, particularly some "outstanding" ratings from Burghound (www.burghound.com) for his 2009s and 2010s, word is finally out.

Far removed from the large scale, technical Chablis that has made its mark so heavily in the UK, absolutely nothing is rushed at the Domaine and quality is everything. The vines are handed tended and harvested, the goal being to produce perfectly balanced fruit. The wines are fermented with wild yeasts in steel tanks, before ageing in a mixture of tank and used oak demi-muid cask for up to 18 months, or until Stephane feels the wines are ready. These are Chablis brimming with character, each wine reflecting its own terroir characteristics very clearly, they are intense, silky yet refreshing with it.

The best bit of all is that Chablis such as these still represent extraordinary value. Genuine Premier Cru quality at £180 in bond and under is hard to beat.

Appellation: Chablis

Chablis is Burgundy's northern most region spanning 3,000 hectares centred around the town of Chablis itself in the départment of the Yonne near Auxerre. Though considered part of Burgundy, in terms of geography it is as close to Sancerre and Pouilly Sur Loire as it is to the Côte d'Or, and in terms of soils and climate is actually closer. The vineyard area rolls around Chablis itself and 19 other villages. There are four levels of wine: Petit Chablis; Chablis;Chablis 1er Cru and Chablis Grand Cru, the latter of which there are seven which sit prominently above the town of Chablis itself on sun-blanched south-facing slopes.

Soil is a very important factor in the quality and unique style of Chablis and can roughly be divided into two types, firstly Kimmeridgean. This is a kind of clay limestone with a large proportion of fossilized oyster shells. Chablis is on the edge of the Paris rock basin the other side of which is the Dorset village of Kimmeridge from which the soil takes its name. The other soil type is Portlandien, a similar clay limestone structure without the same complexity, giving wines of slightly less sophistication and finesse. The former is the base of the Grands Crus and all of the best Premiers Crus and Chablis Villages vineyards, the latter, generally speaking, is the base for most of the outlying Petit Chablis area.

The northerly climate obviously means that vintages can vary quite starkly, summers are mostly hot and sunny, though, with the variation in weather coming more into to play towards the end of the season. The greatest danger during the season is from frost, which can be devastating, so much of the vine-growers early season activity is spent devising ways to protect the vines. One of the more traditional is lighting "smudge pots" throughout the vineyards, in an effort to get warm air circulating around the vines. The quantity and quality of wine produced can therefore vary from year to year. Chablis is obviously a large area and now a very big commercial brand so there are swathe's of rather poor quality and not very good value example around. Fortunately though there are plenty of fine examples, too. At its best Chablis is a unqieuly steely mineral wine that can age extremely well. "Classic" Chablis as we know it today is aged and fermented in steel tanks. However there are a number of growers experimenting with oak, mainly used barrels, not to give any oak flavour to the wine but to improve its texture and complexity. These can make for some of the very finest examples of Burgundy there are. Some of the finest exponents are Vincent Dauvissat, Francois Raveneau, Laurent Tribut, Droin and Moreau Naudet.