2015 Domaine William Fevre Chablis Montee de Tonnerre 1er Cru

Year: 2015
Appellation: Chablis
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 89-91
Vinous Media: 91-93
Burghound: 90-93
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.0%
Price :

"The 2015 Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre, which comes from three different parcels, has a more sultry bouquet at the moment with bruised apple, granite and smoky scents--a bit broody coming after the winsome Mont de Milieu. The palate is nicely balanced with mouth-sapping salinity on the entry, nicely focused with that saline theme continuing right to the slightly austere, but attractive finish. I expect it to land at the top of my banded score once in bottle.

My rendezvous with Didier Seguier, head winemaker at William Fevre, was at their tasting room in Chablis ville, opposite the Bistro de Grand Cru. As usual, we tasted through their comprehensive portfolio, first with the 2015s, of which all but the entry-level wines are still in tank on their lees and due for bottling next year. Then we broached the 2014s in bottle.

“Flowering passed well with just a little coulure in Premier and Grand Cru,” Didier explained. “There was a storm in the second week of August and we needed the rain as it had been hot since the beginning of June [in fact, there was hardly a drop in June or July, which resulted in some hydric stress]. Then there was the hailstorm on August 31 and we started the picking on September 3, commencing with three areas that had been impacted by the hail: Montmains, Les Clos and in Montée de Tonnerre. The alcohol levels came in between 12 degrees and 13.5 degrees.”

Some of the facts and figures on their 2015 vintage report make an interesting reading: a 75% drop in rainfall in June and July, with August 66% wetter than usual, but because of that hailstorm on August 13, there was 13% more sunshine hours than average--in particular during April, June and July. Didier actually compared the 2015 to the 2009 vintage when I asked if any came to mind, which is a fair comparison given the warmth of those two seasons, though the jury is out whether 2015 actually surpasses the 2009.

Didier’s use of barrel is always astute. Long gone are the days when William Fevre was known (infamous?) for its oaky Chablis; now they use oak barrels that are between three- and five-year-old, much more discrete and playing a supporting rather than main role. Fevre also presciently used alternative closures, a trend in the Chablis region. “Everything is bottled under DIAM, which we have been using since 2006. We have opened some of those bottles and they are still so fresh.” Tasting through the portfolio of William Fevre is a good litmus test of the vintage. since they boast such a deep array of Premier and Grand Crus, as well as very popular entry-level wines. There are stellar wines here from Bougros Côte de Bourgerot and Valmur, while others such as Vaudésir just seem to not click into top gear when compared with others.

As I anticipated, their 2015s seems rounded and more approachable than 2014--less nerve and race, although I adored the Mont de Milieu and Vaulorent this year. Some of the 2014s are very special, in particular a very impressive, mineral-driven Les Lys. While this is not the more well-known Premier Cru, here it is demonstrating exactly what it can do." (WA)

"(just half a harvest--25 hectoliters per hectare--due to hail): Pale yellow. Crystalline aromas of pineapple, grapefruit, fresh herbs and iodiney minerality. Very intensely flavored, precise wine with lovely cut but also terrific extract-rich density. Remarkably pure considering the hail, but this very backward wine will need time in bottle. Finishes distinctly firm-edged, with juicy salinity, a touch of positive bitterness, and superb rising length and lift. Really resounds on the aftertaste." (VM)

"The cool and restrained nose is mostly comprised by notes of mineral reduction though there are background nuances of iodine, pear and white flowers in evidence. I very much like the power and intensity to the concentrated yet refined medium weight flavors that display more evident minerality on the beautifully textured and persistent finish that is ever-so-mildly youthfully austere. This is more classically styled than most of these 2015s." (BH)

Winery Notes:
With a geological structure similar to the Grands Crus and excellent exposure, this terroir is considered one of the best Premiers Crus. The wine is both full and rich yet can also show its mineral and floral characteristics.

Grape variety:

Complex bouquet with floral and fruity aromas, and intense mineral notes. Structured palate in its youth, becoming more subtle and elegant and developing ripe fruit notes.

Food and wine pairing:
Fish, shellfish and other seafood, grilled or in a cream sauce. Poultry and white meat, grilled or in a cream sauce.