As most readers know I’m not a Chablis devotee, although I have tasted my share of fine Chablis over the years. I love a good Chablis, and one of my favourite sources is William Fever – the Henriot owned producer – alongside Raveneau and Dauvissat. So always I make do with the very best if possible.
Recently I had the opportunity to taste some 2015s along with a few 2014s from Fever, when winemaker Didier Seguier visited Denmark and the new Danish importer Erik Sörensen.
Before this tasting I had some although limited opportunities to taste 2015 Chablis, and some of those I had tasted were not very interesting to say the least.
The 2015 vintage was hot in Chablis – just as in the main part of Burgundy, and on the top of this Chablis experienced some very heavy hail storms in 2015.
Not ideal conditions – although Chablis all things being otherwise equal should cope better with the hot summer.
William Fever is one of the very best producers in the region with large holdings, and they have – also in 2015 – managed to secure a healthy harvest and make some surprisingly balanced and lovely wines.
William Favre produces both negociant wines and Domaine wines … and it was interesting to taste some from both categories, to match these against each other. It would indeed be my hypothesis that the Domaine wines are the better wines – but lets see.
After the 2015 tasting we tasted a few 2014s – in my view a true benchmark vintage, and a vintage that stylewise is quite a contrast to the generous and rich 2015s.
Let me just say – the 2015s stand their ground well – but they are not really a match for the 2014s – as these have both the racy acidity of a classic vintage and a very good concentration.
The 2014s are together with the 2010s perhaps the best wines produced in Chablis over the last decade – so not an easy task for the 2015s to go head to head with these marvellous wines.
That being said – the charming 2015s offered a lot of pleasure – and my claim would be that some wine drinkers would in fact prefer the more round and generous 2015s – rather than challenge the acidity and mineral driven 2014s at this stage.
This is the beauty of the different vintages – and for a wine writer or critic it’s always important to remember, that not all people enjoy wines with a high acidity and a very powerful minerality. In the long run however many will most likely prefer the 2014s as the open up and unfold more complexity.
The tasting of the 2015s from William Fever
Starting our with the Petit Chablis 2015 – as an appetizer. It’s a wine made from bought grapes from what one could call the extended Chablis. This is a ripe and quite generous wine – balanced and with quite some yellow fruit. Offering a bit of minerality and while the wine is well made as always from Fevre, the bought grape material does not quite seem to offer the same purity, energy and detail found in the William Fevre estate Chablis. Petit Chablis is however also somewhat outside the normal habitat of the Winehog – so not for me to comment in detail.
Next up a very interesting set – the Fevre negociant Chablis and the estate Chablis … a direct test to establish how much difference there is between the negoce side and the estate side. Let me just say .. there is a huge difference in this case .. although both are drinkable and enjoyable.
The Chablis 2015 – negoce – is a generous and quite balanced wine, aromas somewhat dominated by yellow fruit and supported by a nice minerality. The fruit is clean but do not offer the utmost in purity, and this does make the wine slightly more dwelling and dense, hence it’s lacking a bit of energy and brilliance compared to the estate wine. This is a respectable wine, but for around 10% more (in this case) one can get the estate Chablis … but if the last cent is important this would do … Average+ (80 – 82p).
The Domaine William Fevre Chablis 2015 is in my view a quite big step up from the negociant wine in my view. A fine little Chablis – generous with a nice mix of white and yellow fruit. The minerality is more forward and the fruit has a crystalline purity and energy compared to the negociant Chablis. The finish is rather long with a nice minerality and a interesting saline impression. I tasted this again after the tasting and even at room temperature this offered fresh pure fruit and quite some pleasure even at a high temperature. A lovely little Chablis – charming, well made and enjoyable with its generous style. Good (84 – 86p).
To me there is a world of difference between these two wines – one is for drinking preferably with food – and the other is a wine for tasting and enjoying even as an aperitif.
Lets put this down as a tribute to the serious viticulture work done by William Fevre, as even the entry level estate Chablis offer the high standard of purity found in the bigger estate wines.
Moving up the ladder to the 1er crus – a set of Vaillons and Montée de Tonnere – these are both Domaine bottlings.
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Vaillons 2015 is a quite refined effort for the vintage – offering a quite delicate expression of Chablis in this generous year. The nose offer pure slightly extotic fruit – hint of white peach – nice mineral tension. On the palate a fine energy and minerality – lightfooted compared to the Montée de Tonnere – and quite refined with a nice airy fruit and a filigree display of minerality. Very Good (88 – 90p)
The Chablis Montée de Tonnere is one of the top 1er crus and this is quite obvious when tasting the 2015 edition of this wine. This is a more serious wine – more yellow fruit and a much more intense minerality – followed by a quite substantial jump in the price from the Chablis Vaillons. The nose offers rich and generous fruit – cool – with notes of white peach, hint of pineapple and supported by a intense chalky minerality. On the palate focused and rich with a quite substantial intensity and length. Certainly a bigger wine and a step up from Vaillons .. Fine (90 – 92p).
Moving up to the big guns .. the grand crus … starting with Domaine William Fevre Les Preuses 2015 – quite a step up from Montée de Tonnere with a more effortless presentation. The nose is quite tight offering a citrus infused quite cool fruit with some exotic elements – white peach, apple, hint of acacia flower, anise and white pepper – brought forward by a filigree and refined minerality. On the palate intense but a bit understated and tight – a very refined effort in a otherwise quite outgoing and expressive vintage. Very Fine (92 – 94p).
The top of the line-up is Domaine William Fevre Les Clos 2015 – a step up in concentration, length and intensity. This is quite backward below the facade of generous fruit. The nose is brimming with white and yellow peach, Granny Smith apple and honeysuckle – focused by a intense minerality and a slight spicy white pepper/nutmeg note. On the palate largely framed with plenty of stuffing and a mighty mineral framework. A big wine – currently unresolved and hesitant with tightly knit pure fruit, powerful minerality and a finish with the same slightly spicy twist of pepper/nutmeg. This will require time to unfold – huge potential here though. Very Fine(+) (93 – 95p)You need to login to read the rest of this article. If you are not a subscriber, use the subscribe function and sign-up.