Reviews, articles, ratings, domaine profiles, appellation studies and more on the finest wines of Europe and the Americas from one of this country’s most passionate Certified Sommeliers with 30+ years' experience tasting, buying, selling and even (a couple years) producing the world’s greatest wines.
François Servin – Tradition in the Cellars, Flamboyance in Person
François Servin – one of the more flamboyant winegrowers in Chablis – and his Australian-born winemaker Marc Cameron have been on a qualitative hot streak. With three consecutive vintages of the best juice I’ve tasted here, it’s high time these guys are on your radar. Whether Grand Cru, Premier or straight Village, the Midas touch is strong here, and at work across three of my favorite, most-recent vintages.
With parcels of the oldest vines comprising most of their holdings, ROBERT PARKER’S WINE ADVOCATE in particular insists:
“They deserve a berth in your cellar alongside those prized Raveneaus and Dauvissats.”
Having spent more than adequate time tasting the line-up, I get it. You will, too with a few glasses of their recent releases. Acidities are perfectly balanced with the fruit, but more importantly, the “Chablis” spirit is here – in buckets.
What I seek, foremost – my beloved Kimmeridjian vein of lip-smacking salinity – weaves its way throughout François Servin’s selections.
One of the dynamic duo’s top wines, in particular, the 2014 Le Clos Grand Cru is – in a word – smashing! The new oak is barely there; it’s all about fruit (buckets of it) and that classic vein of acidity. Everything graciously wrapped in harmonic salinity.
Looking to the 2015s, the very old-vine Selection Massale is a killer value, made all the more irresistible by a consumer-friendly growing season. There’s a gravel and Granny Smith bouquet which belies the “buy it by the case” pricing. This is my go-to value buy in classic Chablis for 2015. It’s thoroughly irresistible.
Without skipping a beat, the team rolled right into 2016 with one of the best versions of their 1er Cru Vaillons I’ve tasted since the late 1990s. Sit back, take in the aromas of the ocean – oysters, sea breezes – and then be prepared to be all consumed by the fruit of this stunner. Brimming with peaches, mandarin oranges and Granny Smiths, all wrapped nicely in Kimmeridjian complexity, this is a true dream of a Vaillons. And having consumed more of this 1er Cru than any other (it’s my favorite) I will tell you that you absolutely should not miss it!
In the world of Burgundy – doubly so in terms of the whites – rarely do quantity and quality inhabit the same world. Enter the collection known as La Chablisienne; a selection of sublime Chardonnays so well-balanced and consistently well made as to render professional wine critics seemingly ecstatic year after year. Burghound – the most conservative writer I know – routinely refers to these offers as “strikingly long and harmonious”, while The Wine Spectator gushes with terms to include “intense”, “complex” and “terrific”.
Reading such grandiose reviews, one would surely think they were in the presence of one of the most limited production, impossible to acquire and therefore sky-high priced wines of the genre. After all, when mid to upper 90 point reviews start rolling around from Burghound (as in the case of the 2008 Les Preuses from La Chablisienne), we’re usually witnessing wines the likes of Leflaive Batard Montrachet or Niellon Chevalier Montrachet.
But Herve Tucki – Director of marketing for La Chablisienne – has a very different vision for the wine drinker. His firm, dedicated to “revealing the heart and soul of the wines of Chablis”, represents a collection of the finest small growers of the region. Founded in 1923, La Chablisienne has expanded to such a size that today it vinifies and markets nearly 35% of all of the wine bottled in the region. And it is precisely this element of scale that allows such quality from a firm that produces such quantity.
Further, since the 1950s, La Chablisienne now fully controls 100% of the vinification process to include vineyard work, bottling and aging. Whereas once they acted simply as a blender and wholesale merchant to the trade, today La Chablisienne acts more as a boutique wine-maker – albeit one of the largest “boutiques” one is likely to encounter. By incorporating the finest wine-makers with the greatest vineyard sites available in Chablis, La Chablisienne has truly accomplished what few (if any) other firms in Burgundy has been able to: combining high quality with terrific quantity to offer the discerning consumer outstanding prices on highly regarded, world-class wines.
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