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Christian Moreau Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru 2008
Domaine Christian Moreau Pere et Fils owns a total of 7.5 acres of this most famous of the Grand Crus of Chablis, more than any other producer in the region. Their primary parcel sits on the high portion of the hillside with a direct southeast exposure. With the steep grade, drainage of the kimmeridgien soils is quick leading to low yields of the densely planted vines.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Aromas of citrus blossom and chalk dust lead into lemon, vanilla, peach and mineral in this elegant, yet powerful white. Really expressive of place, this evolves across the palate, cascading into a long aftertaste of citrus and mineral. There's a fine seashore intensity. Best from 2013 through 2030.
A combination of fresh lemon, fusil, crushed chalk and white truffle in the nose of the Moreau 2008 Chablis Les Clos puts me in mind a bit of 1996, with musky narcissus and peony adding seductive intrigue. But there is a silken texture and a succulent generosity of white peach to accompany the bright lemon and grapefruit that would not have been present in many 1996s. Indeed, this is munificent by the standards of its site, vintage, and compared with previous wines I have tasted from the Moreau domaine. But beyond all the animal, floral, and sweetly-fruited depth present (at under 13% alcohol, it should be noted), there is all the cut and clarity, and all the saturation of chalk, salt, and iodine that one could wish for under the rubric of “minerality.” Peach kernel and citrus rind add piquancy to an expansive and sustained finish. This will be worth following for at least ten or a dozen years; and here’s hoping it will still stand erect when the roll is called two decades from now. A small portion of the wine – which I did not taste – had been bottled only a few weeks before my visit, but the majority, including the bottle I sampled, had been bottled along with the rest of the Moreau 2008 crus, in September.
Here the nose is also distinctly cool and admirably pure with notes of fresh acacia blossom, mildly exotic yellow fruit and crushed stone notes that complement the equally mineral-suffused middle weight flavors that possess superb intensity and stunning length where the finish really coats the palate with dry extract. Terrific.
Rich and concentrated wine, with apricot and peach fruit as well as a tight mineral character. This is a wine for aging, its rich fruits bolstered by an impressive integration with the toast, smoothing and rounding the whole wine.
The Domaine holdings are located in the best oriented parcels, and bottlings include Grand Crus Les Clos, Valmur, Vaudésir, Blanchot, and Les Clos des Hospices (a Monopole from the Moreau family), Premier Cru Vaillon, as well as Chablis AC, and some Petit Chablis. Every parcel is harvested by hand to bring out the very best from each vineyard. The Moreau's winemaking philosophy is non-interventionist at its core, entailing biodynamic practices aimed toward creating low-yield, high-quality harvests. Additionally, grapes for every wine from the Chablis AC to the Les Clos Grand Cru are hand-picked.
Fabien Moreau became the winemaker with the 2002 vintage, and is already producing remarkable results. With previous experience in New Zealand, Fabien is a visionary young winemaker who is a sincere adherent to the tenants of terroir. As such, the wines of Christian Moreau Pere et Fils are remarkable for their authenticity, distinctiveness, and exquisite quality.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
Unapologetically powerful, heady, and fruit-forward, Zinfandel is often thought of as a truly Californian grape, though in fact it is anything but. This variety has followed an intriguing trajectory to reach its adoptive home, beginning, surprisingly, in Croatia. Originally known as Tribidrag, it first made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. From there it eventually migrated to what is now unarguably its most successful outpost, in California, and has thrived throughout the state. Of course, this is also the grape of White Zinfandel, a sweet pink wine that enjoyed great popularity in the 1980s and 90s. Though White Zin still has a significant following, today the variety is increasingly associated with the red version.
In the Glass
Zinfandel commonly features a bold, plush texture and notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, black pepper, dark chocolate, leather, and licorice, and can often be described as “jammy” and a little bit sweet. Very ripe examples may express a hint of dried fruit like raisin, fig, or prune. Despite its significant alcohol and weight, Zinfandel has very smooth, gentle tannins.
Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs, or anything barbecued. If care is taken with regards to alcohol levels, Zinfandel’s hint of sweetness can work well with milder Indian-spiced dishes like lamb curry.
Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding vines tend to produce wine that is concentrated, complex, and elegant.