Nathalie and Gilles Fevre make outstanding wines from their 43 hectare Chablis property. As well as a sizeable chunk of straight Chablis, they have parcels in Grand Cru Les Preuses, 1er Cru Vaulorent, 1er Cru Mont-de-Milieu and 1er Cru Fourchaume. In order to concentrate on what they do best, about a third of their production is sold to La Chablisienne co-operative, where Nathalie used to be the winemaker.
Shiny stainless steel and just a few oak barrels adorn their winery.
I was keen to get the low-down on Chablis and minerality from these top-quality guys. Gilles defined minerality as “the impression of having limestone in your mouth, a chalky texture, salty in the mouth, it reminds you of the seaside.” Licking and munching on vineyard stones has become something of an occupational hazard for me. No conclusions as yet.
A soil/terroir element to the equation is evidently key in Chablis, with the shortest vertical distance to Kimmeridge marne equating with greater mineral expression in the wine. Gilles said “Fourchaume is the least mineral of the 1er crus we have, a more ‘easy drinking’ 1er cru. And it’s the least typical [of our] Chbalis’ for this reason. There’s earth on top, then at about 1.5 metres you have the Kimmeridgian marne. There’s more mineral expression in corners [of the parcel], where there’s been more erosion, and where there is very little topsoil is left, the soil goes straight to Kimmeridge marne.”
On the other hand, Vaulorent, part of Fourchaume “is a very different soil, it goes directly onto the Kimmeridgian marne, with very little soil, but lots of clay mixed in with the marne.”
Mineral expression was also cited as being vintage related, as Nathalie explained: “in 2007, because of the hail the Mont de Milieu parcel was partly destroyed. We picked only half the grapes, part ripe, part black. But we noticed the wine was very concentrated, a bit too heavy and fat, not with the usual typicity.
“It was the same in 2008. Then three years afterwards, in 2010, Mont de Milieu became mineral again. It’s now showing back with minerality.“ The Mont de Milieu 2010 was my favourite wine of the tasting here.
Time in bottle was also discussed, with something about minerality taking time to develop, for example it was yet to appear, according to the Fevres, at the time of tasting, on the straight Chablis 2011.
Tasting, in situ, July 2012
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis 2011
Gentle, floral, hints of metallic steeliness, deep intensity of flavour, mealy savouriness. Very smooth and textured. Light and lively on the tongue, fresh and moreish.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis 2010
Hints of aromatic peaches, with a steely note, dark and a bit brooding in bass texture – really intriguing and enticing. More back palate intensity, smooth and almost slippery (positive) texture. Vg.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2010
Elusive nose, then peachy and apricot. Palate with galvanised steel, intense, smooth, sophisticated. Huge concentration, in a non-fruity spectrum.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis 1er cru Mont de Milieu 2010
15% oak, nothing new.
Citrus pith and little more than the memory of toastiness. Creamy attack, meal and white nuts, notes of floral mid palate, with hint of vanilla spiciness mid palate. Salty twist at the back palate. Lively on the tongue. Lovely concentration again, warm and a bit embracing. Smooth texture, with restraint that appears bursting to get out. Long mineral salty tang bang in the middle of the tongue on the sides. Tingly acidity, mouthwatering. Vg.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent 2010
A floral description doesn’t do this justice. Hints of firestone, almost tropical fruit note on the palate attack. Full and fleshy and fresh and well-spined. Huge flavour concentration with restraint. Bit big to be elegant, but this is no criticism. Long, (with a smaragd Riesling-type element of dry texture (not flavour)). Succulent and fleshy
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu 2009
2009 was sunny and hot – a low malic acid year.
Non fruity nose, gentle, soft white flowers come through, fresh white nuts, and white pepper note on the palate attack. Rounder feel on the mid palate. Warm, almost; less linear though still a penetrating palate. Like this less than the 2010, but that’s just stylistic preference. Both very good.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis 1er cru Vaulorent 2009
2008: very cold, classic, acidity stayed in grapes. High acid vintage.
Aromatic wafting smoke on the immediate nose. Richness and fatness of palate attack. Full bodied and richness of mealiness. Nonetheless seems to miss the focus and perspicacity of 2010 vintage.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis GC Les Preuses 2009
Fresh, floral steel magnolias nose, vaguest hint of allspice, more a textural spiciness on the tongue. Huge concentration, yet fresh and light and lifted. Hasn’t got the weight of the Vaulorent 2009 (I clearly prefer less weight). Vg
Preuses is harvested earlier than the others, which may explain this less weight.
Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Fevre, Chablis GC Le Preuses 2008
Mealy nose, floral too. Fresh, steely note mid palate which keeps the mid-palate sucked in. Clearly needs more time to fill out and soften a bit. Huge wine.