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Keep it simple (Chablis, France – Day Two)

If anyone has played competitive team sport in their life they may have heard of the KIS principle, which stand for Keep It Simple. Looking back on my trip I am finding it fascinating that many of the wineries and regions that I most connected with have this same principle in mind. Even more interesting is that this connection was regardless of red or white wine, but applied to philosophies and practices as well as style. The clarity purity and minerality of the rieslings I tasted in Germany blew me away, as did the gruner veltliners in Austria. Some of the best wines I tasted in Spain were those that were straightforward and approachable, such as the albarinos in Rias Baixas and the verdejos in Rueda. In terms of French wine, the simple white wines of the Loire Valley and Chablis have a special place in my heart, as the minimal intervention they make in the wineries means it is purely the expression of the variety in their particular terroir. In fact there are a number of similarities in terms of climate and soil composition between Sancerre, Pouilly and Chablis, but the latter chooses to express through chardonnay rather than sauvignon blanc. The minerality of these regions is legendary, but I am starting to see there are some different expressions that still follow the KIS principle.

Some of the characters of Chablis

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Domaine Louis Michel – 4/12/2012

Chablis 2011
Pure delicate bright crisp mineral and citrus notes, very classic freshness. Wonderful depth concentration and extension, plenty of character and delivery of fruit, warmth and minerality. Vibrant but still austere and elegant.

Montmains 2011 Premier Cru
Tighter more sherbet lift and vibrancy without being as open and generous. More intense, pretty dense and impenetrable, very young and quite tight for now, brooding minerality and concentration, given time will open out beautifully. Very focused, more savoury and texture coming through to balance the fruit.

Sechets 2011 Premier Cru
Smokier flintier concentration, very tight minerals and closed fruit. Dense but at the same time rich, generous and creamy texture, broader but still very focused. A little more dirty and wild in style compared to the others, really all about the texture with this wine.

Butteaux 2010 Premier Cru
Very subtle seashell notes, focused and pure with bright citrus notes. Very full intense rich and expressive in fruit, but exceptionally long with excellent finesse on the back palate. Some serious savoury notes, a masculine expression, dense and brooding.

Montee de Tonnerre 2010 Premier Cru
Classic Chablis aroma, bright citric fruit with some blossomy white flowers. Wonderfully open for such a young wine, very delicate for now though. Full expression, a little warm and out of balance, almost looking a touch fat, needs more time to soften out.

Vaudesir 2010 Grand Cru
Extremely subtle complex and delicate, very closed and intense. Certainly more in the salty mineralic region. Truly a contemplative wine. Layers of complexity move their way back on the palate, rich but not full heavy fat or creamy, detours all over the place, lingering beautifully. One of those wines.

Grenouilles 2010 Grand Cru
A little bit too closed for now, far too young. Nice density but not the same level of concentration. Very fine and elegant, lifted and complex but not expressing very much. May open up over time, but not seeing as much potential as the others. A much more delicate style for the vintage.

Les Clos 2010 Grand Cru
Classic Chablis, lovely bright rich citrus stone fruit and floral notes, exuberant and inviting. Open rich friendly opulent. Nice balance of fruit, but perhaps I am not a fan of this vineyard, the wines are a little too easy for me?

Montee des Tonnerres 2000
Classic old chardonmay/Chablis aromas. Cat piss, grapefruit. Quite rich broad and open on the palate, mature slightly oxidised fruit characters, a little creaminess but just classic bottle aged style.

Montmains 1995
Creamy and rich yet very soft, rounding out a lot, exuberant minerality and acidity in youth has faded and integrated into the texture and the fruit. Still very fresh, retaining all of its colour, but fleshing out, opening and rounding and showing a lot more toasty complexity.

Domaine Louis Michel & Fils

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