Up from the Cellar #1

This is the start of a different type of article / tasting that I am going to do. I have always been fascinated about how wine ages. It is clear to all wine lovers that even just one extra year in bottle can change the taste and body of a wine. That is the point of these ‘Up from the Cellar’ articles. The aim is taste wines from all over the world, with varying vintages.

The main objective, of course, is to taste and write about these wines and to show how they develop over time. For example, these articles will not just be about wines that are over 15 years old. I will be tasting wines that could only be 4 years old, then perhaps 10 years old, then 16 years old and so on and so forth. The idea is that no vintage or ‘bottle age’ is off the table. As you may or may not know, some wines can last up to 50, 60, 70 years old. I am not suggesting I will go that far but it would be nice if I could!

Each ‘Up from the Cellar’ tasting will have a theme. Not necessarily so that one could compare wines tasted. More so that it gives you, the reader, a better understanding of certain regions, vintages, grape varieties etc. Generally speaking, these tastings will consist of 4 wines maximum, I am sure there will be times when that limit is lifted. The idea is for more focus on older wines, so the more I can taste the more I can share with you.

So! Let’s crack on.

This first article is about 3 wines (photo below). Two from the same Domaine and one from another. Like our other articles I will give you some information about each Domaine/Winery. This is mainly so you can form an opinion of your own about each wine that is tasted.

So we start with two wines from Domaine William Fevre, founded in 1959 by William Fevre (shock) who declared his first crop that year. He was descended from a family that had resided in Chablis for over 250 years. Naturally he set up as a winemaker with 7 hectares of vineyards. Since 1959 the Domaine has purchased new vineyards in Chablis. These vineyards are located in nearly all of the historic terroirs of the region. They are now one of the biggest land owners in Chablis with 78 hectares of vineyards. 15.9 hectares are classified as Premier Cru and 15.2 as Grand Cru. The first time I went to the Domaine I think I was 12 years old. I remember watching my father taste about 5 wines which had come from a machine that cools and pours wine for you. Nowadays we call it a wine fridge with taps or a wine dispenser… back then it was magic for me. I have been blessed with being able to taste these wines for many years. So when I saw two bottles in January from the 2005 vintage that someone was selling, I had no choice but to buy them.

Lastly our third wine is hailing from Le Savour Club. Now this is an interesting company. It would appear that Le Savour Club originally was a French club for wine and spirits enthusiasts. It was created in the 1960’s and later it became a distribution company of wine. From what I understand it is a bit like our version of Laithwaites. However, from their success it would appear that they have wines bottled with their own labels that they buy from ‘negociants’. These are either farmers or even Domaines who sell their grapes to other Domaines to make their own wines. They clearly have a vast range, I have found wines across Burgundy, Rhone and Bordeaux with their name on. What really caught my eye on this particular bottle is both the vineyard of Charmes-Chambertin but more importantly the vintage. 1990 was a very good year and I certainly thought this wine would turn my head.

Domaine William Fevre – Chablis Fourchaume 1er Cru 2005

So, 100% Chardonnay coming from the 1er Cru vineyard of Fourchaume. Gravity is used to let the grapes press so as to avoid pumping, pumping could harm the quality of this intricate wine. 40-50% of the harvest is aged in oak barrels, the remainder in stainless steel vats, this is done for 13-14 months.

Tasting Note – Rating 91

Citrus and vanilla still clear on the nose, mineral notes such as wet slate very evident. Floral aromas transfer to the palate in orange blossom and acacia. Sweet stone fruits clear on the palate with nice medium body to enhance the vanilla and honey notes. For 18 years old this is really lovely. Drinking very nicely and personally just impressed that it still holds true to its original fruit flavours. Drink up now as its decline is starting.

Domaine William Fevre – Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru 2005

Again, 100% Chardonnay coming from the Grand Cru vineyard of Les Clos. Same use of gravity in order to avoid pumping. 60-70% of the harvest is aged in oak barrels this time with the remainder in stainless steel vats. 14-15 months this wine is aged for in barrel and vats, of which 5-6 months on fine lees.

Tasting Note – Rating 89

As gold as could be in the glass. Honeyed sweet fruits, marmalade and orange biscuits. This is power on the nose at its finest. On first taste it is very subtle and light on the palate, which then explodes into orange marmalade with honey. Lovely balance still and the roundness just starting to fade away. Light-medium bodied now and certainly starting its decline. Definitely drink up and savour those beautiful honeyed fruit notes.

Le Savour Club – Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 1990

Now unfortunately it is very difficult to find out a lot about this wine. However from the label we can already identify that this is 100% Pinot Noir coming from the vineyards of Charmes-Chambertin. I would imagine this to be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 6 months, most likely more.

Tasting Note – Rating 94

This is brown and ethereal. Farmyard, dried fruits and extremely perfumed. Lots of herbs, dried fruits, raisins, currants. On the palate, rich and supple. I was so happy I cannot even describe it. The wine is smooth and elegant with finesse and acidity still plying its trade. Farmyard and dried fruits really enveloping the mouth with melting tannins. Medium bodied with a continuing long finish. This is sublime. Easily could last another 5-8 years if needed, personally I would start drinking now.

So that’s that! The first ‘Up from the Cellar’! I hope you enjoyed reading the tasting notes. Hopefully it helped to give you a bit of an idea about what taste profiles you should expect with older wines from these regions. Next time we will be discovering some Italian gems… So stay tuned for the end of March.

Thank you for reading and we’ll see you next week for one of our 60th Tastings!

Harry Vernau

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