Charlene & Laurent Pinson Chablis Montee de Tonnerre Premier Cru 2020
100% Chardonnay from 35+ year old vines.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 91-94
Between Vaillons and Montmains
Impeccably ploughed Kimmeridgian soil
Vineyard by vineyard approach to vinification
100% hand harvested
There are only so many certainties in life; the Earth is round, water is 2 parts hydrogen to 1 part oxygen, Joanie loves Chachi, John Lennon was a musical genius, and no Chardonnay in the world tastes like Chablis. This small hamlet, just a few hours south of Paris, relays the link between place and taste perhaps more than anywhere else in the world. The reason dates back to a unique soil formed by the recession of a prehistoric basin that once covered parts of northern France including the eastern Loire, southern Champagne, and most notably, Chablis. Known famously as Kimmeridgian marl, this limestone based soil is layered with fossils of ancient aquatic life. To say the wines from this region taste of salty seashells would seem obvious and on the nose, but it would be impossible to taste the best examples from Chablis without proclaiming that very fact. And few in this village are translating that distinct salty marine life into their wines as clearly as the Pinson family.
In a region so steeped in history (and prehistory), Domaine Pinson stands out, having farmed in Chablis since 1640. Perhaps the family’s most important figure, Louis Pinson, led the domaine in 1940 to become one of the first properties in Chablis to sell directly to the public, establishing them as early adopters of estate bottling. The domaine today is run by the dynamic Charlène Pinson and her father Laurent. They own 14 hectares of the crème de la crème of Chablis terroir, with prime holdings in six premier crus and the grandest cru of them all, Les Clos.
It is the duty of a conscientious grower to maximize the potential of these historic parcels of land by farming in a respectful and sustainable manner. Charlène and Laurent view themselves as not only farmers, but protectors of this sacred land. They choose to not use any herbicides or pesticides in the vineyards, while also ploughing and working the soils – pushing their vines to dig deeper into the limestone bedrock that endows the wines with the unmistakable Chablisienne cut and precision.
Charlène and Laurent’s philosophy in the cellar is defined by an informed flexibility. They believe that every parcel requires a unique vinification. To express their terroir, some vineyards are barrel fermented, while others are fermented in tank. Aging also sees a variety of vessels, including older barrels and stainless steel –Charlène follows no dogma, only using experience to determine the best approach for each terroir. It is an intuitive process, one which results in a stunning display of intense purity across the Domaine Pinson range, seamlessly marrying the historical grandeur found in Kimmeridgian marl and the noble Chardonnay of Burgundy.
The source of the most racy, light and tactile, yet uniquely complex Chardonnay, Chablis, while considered part of Burgundy, actually reaches far past the most northern stretch of the Côte d’Or proper. Its vineyards cover hillsides surrounding the small village of Chablis about 100 miles north of Dijon, making it actually closer to Champagne than to Burgundy. Champagne and Chablis have a unique soil type in common called Kimmeridgian, which isn’t found anywhere else in the world except southern England. A 180 million year-old geologic formation of decomposed clay and limestone, containing tiny fossilized oyster shells, spans from the Dorset village of Kimmeridge in southern England all the way down through Champagne, and to the soils of Chablis. This soil type produces wines full of structure, austerity, minerality, salinity and finesse.
Chablis Grands Crus vineyards are all located at ideal elevations and exposition on the acclaimed Kimmeridgian soil, an ancient clay-limestone soil that lends intensity and finesse to its wines. The vineyards outside of Grands Crus are Premiers Crus, and outlying from those is Petit Chablis. Chablis Grand Cru, as well as most Premier Cru Chablis, can age for many years.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.