Happy New Year! And welcome to three wines that will serve you well in it.
2019 Bernard Defaix Chablis 'Vieilles Vignes'
Resolution for the upcoming year: taste more Chablis. Reflection on the past year: there is so much great Chablis out there, offering ludicrous pleasure and complexity at very modest price points. Of overlooked domaines, Bernard Defaix is at the top of my list for producing classical and intensely saline Chablis, all while offering exceptional value.
The Vieilles Vignes cuvée comes from vines over 45 years old and is aged mostly in stainless with some 20% in old oak. It offers those myriad transportive joys of Chablis and is a balm in every weather, that almost balks account. Starting at the end, the finish is like licking stone and pecorino at the same time, a kiss of beeswax lifted away by saline, brisk acidity. The palate ripe grapefruit and lemon custard. The nose gently beguiling with honeyed almonds and citrus peels. A delight of sun and ancient seas, that is joyful in any context but quintuply so at around 30 dollars.
2014 Yann Durieux ‘Manon’
This is the hand that reaches out to grab you. It pulls you into its own universe of abundance and pleasure. What is spilling from the vessels of revelers in a Poussin canvas to cause such reveling? It surely could be this. Manon is a wine as close in my imagining to ambrosia as any other- it swells with pleasure and complexity, all the joys of Autumn with fruit heavy on trees but also the smell of fallen leaves and fresh gusts to shake all to attention. Cream soda, and key lime, but so too saffron and toasted almonds. The palate is richly inviting, yet with such a pillowy expansive texture once you’re inside. It has evident complexity and composure from its time in bottle, yet it remains utterly fresh and ebullient. This is a hedonistic delight that oughtn’t be overlooked by any epicurean with an interest in Chardonnay’s endless range.
2017 Frédéric Cossard (Domaine de Chassorney) Savigny-lès-Beaune ‘Les Gollardes’
For us at Somm Cellars, it’s very much been a year to recognize what Frédéric Cossard has achieved. His wines are not in every vintage nor in every cuvee alike. They differ significantly even with Fred’s chosen vessels for fermentation and maturation for the same vineyards. This is not a domaine where one says “All of these wines are consistently great, and marked by the same signature.” Rather, one descends into the cave and here shines this ruby, here glints this sapphire.
The 2017 ‘Les Gollardes’ is one such a ruby. From a beautiful and unusual vineyard tucked deep within the valley West of Savigny, the wine is an utterly effusive joy. There’s vibrant red fruit and some tangy black currant as well, herbs and such inviting stem spice which carries through to a a sweet and soft palate. The tannins are fine and the finish long, with a beautifully subtle nuttiness as well. Intensely perfumed such that roses and peonies seem to rebound and echo long after you’ve swallowed. Give Frédéric his due- he makes some great wines that are to be ignored at your loss.