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Samuel Billaud Chablis Premier Cru Les Fourneaux 2014
The new winery lies in the heart of Chablis and used to belong to Stéphane Moreau-Naudet. It is set up so that Billaud only needs to pump his wines once, then gravity does the rest. The rest of the facilities consist of brand new stainless steel tanks and underground storage for barrels.
The recently purchased hectarage includes land in the grand crus Les Clos, Vaudésir, Montée de Tonnerre, Mont de Milieu, Séchet, and in the village level vineyards Les Pargues and Chapelot, as well as a Petit Chablis parcel directly to the north of Les Clos. The 2015 vintage is the first for which he will have full control of the land for the entire year. He is also newly sourcing fruit from the grand crus Blanchots, Valmur, and Bougros. Due to his deep roots in Chablis, Samuel is able to purchase grapes from some of the finest, most well- established growers.
n the cellar, the premier and grand cru wines see about 15% new wood in the form of large 450 and 600 L barrels, which offsets any overt “oakiness.” The rest is fermented in small stainless steel tank.
The resulting range, from AC to Grand Cru, are layered wines rife with crunchy oyster shell and silex, and exhibit a range of flavor profiles from licorice to white peach to toasty baguette. This is top quality Chablis from a rising star producer – for white Burgundy lovers, these are not to be missed.
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 Grand Cru vineyards are all located at ideal elevations and exposition on the acclaimed Kimmeridgian soil while most of the vineyards in the outlying spots are referred to as Petit Chablis. Chablis Grand Cru, as well as some Petit 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.