Somehow, among my friends, I’ve become the guy that always brings White Burgundy to tastings. What can I say, there is simply something about white Burgs that once they have you, there’s no going back. Possibly it’s the depth and layers found in the bouquet and how you can spend minutes simply admiring and working your way through each and every detail. Or maybe it’s how they convey such a presence on the palate, being one of the few white wines that can be both rich, yet lithe—intense, yet finessed. However, in the end, the best thing about white Burgundy is that some of the greatest examples are still quite affordable, and I’m happy to share one with you that I have grown to love.
The Dauvissat family has been bottling Chablis since 1931. Renowned as one of the great traditional producers of the region, often compared to Francois Raveneau, and with highly-respected holdings in a number of both Grand and Premier Crus.
The steady incline in quality since the 1970’s has more to do with Vincent Dauvissat’s belief in natural farming than anything else. In fact, little else has changed here. Vincent continues to age all wines in barrel, along with a malolactic fermentation, which occurs and stops naturally. Since taking on the responsibilities of the vineyard and winemaking, Vincent has worked to uphold a completely natural approach, with a mentality that terroir is everything and that the wine should make itself.
As for the Dauvissat vineyard holdings, the Grand Crus of Les Clos and Les Preuses receive the most attention, yet the Burgundy insider knows better, and that it is that the Premier Cru La Forest which is the real gem of the collection. The reason for this has much to do with the price, often being less than half that of the Grand Crus, yet so near in quality that it can sometimes outshine its Grand Cru brethren. The southern exposure of La Forest coupled with Kimmeridgian soils rich in clay, very closely resembling that of Les Clos, which produce a wine of round textures contrasted by vibrant minerality, and most of all—balance. In warmer years, La Forest still excels because of the cooling influences of the clay soils. In a vintage like 2012, it produces a wine of layered intensity and understated power, which can take a decade to truly reveal its charms.
Granted, prices have risen steadily over the last decade, and I’m often told stories of the bargains that collectors were able to take advantage of many years ago. However, in the grand scheme of things, and at the price of Burgundy today, La Forest remains a tremendous bargain.
On to the tasting notes:
2012 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest – The nose was tight, taut and lithe at first, with seashore inflected mineral tones out front, followed by green apple and hints of lime, yet with time it began to blossom as floral tones arose, along with pear and crushed stone. On the palate, it was a bundle of energy, yet wrapped tight and angular in its youthful state, showing inner floral tones, lemon, apple and saline-minerality. The finish was fresh with vibrancy lending a last mouthwatering burst of green apple. This was a tremendous experience, having followed the 2012 for an entire day; it simply continued to steadily open more and more. (95 points) Find it @Morrell
2008 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru La Forest – The ’08 La Forest showed brilliantly last night, with a savory and mineral laden bouquet of crushed stone, savory herbs, rye, yellow flowers, undergrowth, ripe brie and young peach. On the palate, rich stone fruit weighed heavily on the senses, which was quickly met by vibrant acidity providing an implosive sensation that resulted in a coating a minerals and spice. Lemon pith and saline minerality linger through the finish as hints of stone fruit lined the palate. The consensus around the table was, Wow! (94 points) Find it @Morrell
I truly don’t mean to take anything away from the amazing Grand Crus of Dauvissat, but I felt compelled to share my opinions on La Forest. That said, I’ve been known to love Les Clos as well. In the end, they are all worth the hunt.
2007 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos – Initially this was closed on the nose, yet it began to blossom and expand in the glass with mineral notes up front, followed by sour apple, apricot, wet slate and blanched almond. On the palate, it was soft, supple and waxy with flavors of peach skins and mineral-laden stone. A core of brisk acidity added balance and verve. Tart apple lingered on the finish, maintaining that satisfying waxy tone. It is youthful and fun with so much potential. (93 points)
Article and tasting notes by: Eric Guido