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Rocking Chablis – Domaine Gilles & Nathalie Fèvre

This was a fascinating day, starting at Delaporte in Chavignol, then driving across France, leaving behind the Kimmeridgian Marl of Sancerre we continue the 100 odd kilometres to where almost the same rock re-emerges- Chablis.

Looking down the valley towards the Grand Crus from the Fevre winery

The name Fèvre has history in Chablis, Giles has traced his family back to 1745 and during the 19th century an ancestor, Zephyr, already had vines in Vaulorent. The domaine continues to grow and now they have 50ha of vines. Nathalie worked at La Chablisienne, the local and high-quality co-operative until 2004 when Domaine Nathalie & Giles Fèvre was born. They are now joined by their daughter Julie, not yet 30 but already handy in the vineyard and cellar.

They are not dogmatic here; each vineyard is treated as they feel befits its unique character. The vineyards are farmed sustainably, although no certification is sought, and the winery has been expanded and upgraded. The village wines and 1er Cru Fourchaume see no oak, while the 1er Crus Mont de Milieu, Vaulorent and Grand Cru Les Preuses see varying amounts depending on the vintage. Despite several small harvests the feeling of positive energy here was obvious and tasting with Nathalie and Julie a real pleasure. With quantities so low it is easy to overlook the fact that 2016 is a good year, quality-wise, in Chablis. The two wines below form an excellent introduction to both the domaine and the vintage.

“Vaulorent has the memory of the sea”

Nathalie Fevre

Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent 2016

Nathalie thinks this wine has ‘the memory of the sea’ and I won’t argue, one doesn’t need to be a poet to imagine the ancient shellfish in the wine’s spine of minerality. Vaulorent lies within the better known Fourchaume 1er Cru just above the Grand Cru les Preuses. It has a particularly rocky soil as well as a very good south-western exposure. It sees a little oak, around 15%, for structure rather than flavour. Perhaps this accounts for the pleasing note of toasted nuts that I found alongside white fruits and blossom on the nose. Very fresh with good cut and intensity the Vaulorent balances a rich heart within a taut body and finishes with a chalky grip on the teeth and apricots on the tongue.

Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2016

Lying between Bougros and Vaudésir with a near perfect south west aspect. The soils here are deeper than in Vaulorent above, giving wines which combine oyster shell minerality with a deep power grounded in the earth. It is a wine of geology. Glacial, smoky white peach flavours lead to a muscular yet lean body. There is a firmness and power here that nevertheless has delicacy at its heart. A finish which could fairly be described as a crescendo gives a sense of the potential and complexity here with layers of flavour and perfume. Complexity, power and poise mark this as a fine Grand Cru. Nathalie kindly opened a 2010 for us which showed the ageing potential here, it was still primary, glacial again, firm, with a reserved but complex spectrum of fruit and mineral flavours which promised much with a little more time in the bottle. Simply awesome wines.