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We promised more Chablis this week, and we have managed to come through. Today we have two producers whose work we have been loving over the last few years. Both estates combine great farming and a restrained hand in the cellar to produce thoroughly delicious wines that are pure and expressive of their respective terroirs.
The wines of Eleni and Edouard Vocoret are some of the loveliest and best-value Chablis around. They were favorites of mine when I was the wine director of a restaurant that regularly sold between 1,500 and 2,000 oysters a night. What always struck me was their sense of poise. These wines seem to always have every hair in place without feeling overly technical. While Eleni and Edouard met working together in New Zealand, their Chablis bona fides are unimpeachable. Edouard’s family owns a large and well-known domaine and Eleni cut her teeth working with Nathalie Oudin and Vincent Dauvissat, both outstanding producers. They ferment only with natural yeasts and there is virtually no new oak in the cellar. The overall result is a range of wines that present their individual terroirs with stark clarity. En Boucheran is the furthest west within the appellation, tucked between 1er Crus Vaillons and Montmains with plenty of clay in the soil. This is always the roundest and juiciest of these. The vines are roughly thirty years old.
Lillian Duplessis has been in charge of his family estate since 1999, spent ten years making adjustments in the vineyards and has been certified organic since 2013. While the viticulture is progressive, the winemaking is decidedly old-school—the fruit is pressed gently, fermented in steel and aged in a combination of steel and old oak. The wine sees plenty of time on the lees without much stirring and is bottled with only a small sulfur addition. The result is old-school Chablis, with plenty of acidity, delicate white and yellow fruit and that exposed minerality that can only come from these rocky slopes. These are firm and angular wines that feel as though they could cut glass, simutaneously refreshing and serious. Lillian has a tendency to hold his wines back for longer than other producers. All the wines on offer are library releases, including some more of his brilliant 2018 1er Crus and some magnums of 2015, including Grand Cru Les Clos!
This Duplessis release is illustrative of the challenges facing the appellation at the moment. Lillian is fortunate enough to have sufficient vineyard surface to hold back some wine in more prolific vintages to compensate for the lean years. But as I mentioned last week, the recent vintages have not been kind to Chablis and going forward there will be less wine for more markets than at almost any point in recent memory. So take advantage and buy these wines today, or you may find yourself thirsty down the line! Sam Ehrlich
**Please note!! These wines are in pre-arrival and will be available next week**
Bas de Chapelot comes from a 3.2 hectare parcel just below Montée de Tonnerre. It is the Vocoret's only parcel on the right side of the river bank. The soil is deep, clay and limestone, and Kimmeridgian (moyen). The vines are now 40 years old vines and due to their proximity to the riverbed are very exposed to frost.
Boucheran is made from a 0.89 hectare located between two premier crus, Vaillons and Montmains. The soil is Kimmeridgian (moyen) with a high proportion of white clay in the soil. The vines are 35 years old.
From three parcels, all facing 1er Cru Vaillons. This was pretty, with excellent concentration, upon release. Should be in a terrific window.
Sitting just to the east of Montee de Tonnerre, this is another site with extraordinary potential. Duplessis farms just under a third of a hectare.
Five small parcels within what is likely the greatest 1er Cru vineyard in Chablis, with a high proportion of clay in the soil and due south-east facing.
Among the most powerful and aromatic of the 1er Crus in Chablis, Vaillons drinks amazingly well in its youth while still aging into something stunning.
The combination of power and finesse in a great Les Clos makes it one of the greatest white wine vineyards anywhere in the world. There is little else to say, except that the chance to offer it in a big bottle like this is an absolute treat.