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We interrupt our regular scheduled programming for a Chablis alert. The 2020 vintage is here from the estimable Romain and Damien Bouchard at Domaine de l'Enclos. We always look forward to the arrival of these wines, which have rapidly become some of the most exciting in the appellation. Based on what we have tasted so far, we think you will look forward to drinking them!
L'Enclos is a young estate—the first vintage was only 2016—but Romain and Damien are old hands. They made wine for years at their family estate, Domaine Pascal Bouchard, and under their negociant header, DRB. They are fifth-generation wine growers, with all the accumulated knowledge that comes with it. They sold the family name and winery midway through the previous decade but retained just shy of thirty hectares of prime vineyard land, and founded Domaine de L'Enclos. They established a new winery in an old château in the middle of town and promptly set about getting organic certification for the estate.
When I visited in 2018, it was clear that these two brothers were headed for the big time. The wines are generally quite crystalline and tasting across a wide range of parcels (they have five Premier Crus and three Grand Crus) was a vivid lesson in terroirs, even in a difficult vintage like 2016. Fermentations are all done in steel tank here, and though the Premier Crus and Grand Crus are aged in barrel, there is no new oak glossing over the chalk.
We are particularly jazzed to be able to offer out a wide range of the wines today from Chablis Sans Soufre right up to Vaudesir, the sole Grand Cru they produce. While we have not had a chance to taste everything, what we have tried is exceptionally high quality.
Chablis 'A L'Ouest,' is named for the western-most parcel it comes from and is bottled without any added sulfur. Pungent with ripe stone fruit and savory salty notes, this has wonderful density and quality of material for the level.
Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy is found at the tip of a hill jutting out above the west bank of the Serein River and facing much more south-southeast. The evolution of this wine since 2016 has been remarkable - that first vintage was challenging on release, just strange and disjointed. But five years later it had resolved everything and was stony, focused and delicious. Since then it has been consistently excellent, always rounder and weightier, the chalk jousting with a lovely orange oil/white peach character. This 2020 is no different, perfect for tomorrow night or Christmas dinner five years from now.
L'Enclos farms just over a hectare of Grand Cru Vaudesir. It sits high on the hill between Preuses and Grenouilles, facing due south. At its apex this site produces among the most electric of Chablis, the ripeness from its aspect contrasted with the freshness of the cool drying wind from the combe just above. The 2020 from L'Enclos is, quite frankly, awe-inspiring, with palate-staining minerality and a vein of acid that could cut glass. World-class Shahb-liss.
There is little left to say other than that you should buy these wines. They are serious ageworthy white Burgundies that taste great.
**Please note that this is a PRE-ARRIVAL OFFER. Wines will be in stock next week**
From a plateau overlooking 1er Cru Vau Ligneau, with deep limestone soils. This is lovely and ripe, with really punchy sour orange acidity and a salty mineral core. Excellent for the level and for the style - this can be hard to pull off but the Bouchard brothers nailed this!
From a parcel of 40 year-old vines, this is lovely, satisfying Chablis, with yellow fruit in the attack and mid-palate and forceful minerality in the finish. This has more cut and crispness than the very good 2019. This is a great candidate for mid-term aging (the 2016, backward upon release, grew into a beautiful swan with five years in the bottle). Sam Ehrlich
From vines planted in 1979 and farmed by the Bouchards since 2006. This is always steely and precise, a wine that cries out for oysters, clams and anything else from the sea you care to throw at it.
From .75 hectares of organically farmed vines dating from 1995 high on the hillside on the western end of the climat (per Jasper Morris). Fermented in wood with native yeasts without batonnage and bottled with minimal sulfur.
Fourchaume rather famously sits above the Grand Crus, just to the north and produces wines of real weight and substance, with serious aging potential. The L'Enclos vines range from 30 to 60 years old.
From vines replanted in 1992, this is a fabulous young Vaudesir. Descriptors are beside the point. There is lemon and white peach up front, but whatever. The real attraction is the intense limestone core and sense of cascading energy when you drink it. Brilliant. Sam Ehrlich