Christian Moreau Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru 2009
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Christian Moreau, one of the leading figures in Chablis, is producing the wines he loves under his own name. Free of any personal involvement with the negociant company that his family founded and sold, with his son Fabien they founded Domaine Christian Moreau Pére et Fils in 2001 and set up their winemaking operation in the very heart of the Chablis country, at the foot of its famous Grands Cru vineyards.
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.
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 practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.