.My marathon tasting here was one of the highlights of my quick tour of Chablis.As classic as the 2004s are at this address, the 2003s are equally impressive for the number of wines that transcend this freakishly hot vintage.Incidentally, winemaker Didier Seguier was one of several Chablis insiders who thought the low vintage rating of 2004 published in the magazine Bourgogne Aujourd'hui was nonsense.He rates 2002 18 out of 20, while 2003 merits 14 and 2004 is a solid 16 (my own ratings would be quite close to his, perhaps a hair lower for the '03s).Typically, about half of each premier cru at William Fevre spends its first six to eight months in barrels before the wines are blended in tank and aged for another six months or so.In vintage 2004, noted Seguier, only 20 of this producer's 800 barrels were new.(MH USA, New York, NY)
(domain cuvee; bottled two weeks prior to my visit) Pale, green-tinged yellow. Lemony nose is stunted from the recent miseJuicy, pure and on the dry side, with fairly intenseflavors of white peach and lemon. Finishes with good cut and length.
(domain; southeast-facing 45-year-old vines in a hot spot on a steep slope) Pale green-yellow. Fresh, pure aromas of peach and apricot. Round, spicy and supple, with aflavor of ripe peach. Not complex but finishes sweet and persistent.
(domain) Pale, green-yellow color. More stony aromas of lime, minerals, mint and pepper. Ripe, juicy and minerally, with notes of apple, wet stone and pepper. Quite perfumed in the mouth.
(domain) Pale, green-edged yellow. Ripe aromas of pineapple and smoke. Densely packed, round, ripe and sweet, withflavors of pineapple and spices. Finishes fat, spicy and long.
(domain) Pale yellow. From the same valley as the Vaillons, but from 50-year-old vines facing northeast. Subdued but pure aromas of minerals, iodine and apple, lifted by pepper. Dense, minerally and flinty, but with no hard edges. Very round without conveying any impression of weight. Finishes very long and subtle.
(not domain) Pale, green-tinged color. High-pitched aromas of apple, spices and dusty stone. Rich, round, ripe and spicy, with fat flavors of lime, apple and spices. With its lovely sweet fruit, this is very easy to taste today.Finishes with noteworthy persistence. Fevre buys these grapes, but director Bernard Hervet noted that the house uses its own harvesters and picks when they want to; the company hopes to purchase this vineyard soon.
(domain) Pale yellow-green. Pure aromas of crushed stone, minerals and pepper, along with a saline nuance. Dense, sweet and peppery, with a lively note of ginger. Quite broad but not at all heavy. Finishes with lovely persistence. Fevre owns vines in Pied d'Alloue, which gives purity and precision, and Chapelots, which yields wines with more power and body.
(domain) Pale yellow-green. Aromas of minerals, pepper and spearmint, with a distinctly herbal aspect; atypically brisk for Fourchaume. Then rich and fat, with solid minerality but not quite the grip or complexity of the Montee de Tonnerre. Both of Fevre's Fourchaume bottlings come from the Vaulorent section of this premier cru, which has soil of Kimmeridgian marl similar to that of the adjacent Preuses, and produces wines very different from the riper, more honeyed examples made at the northern end of the Fourchaume vineyard.
(domain) Pale green-yellow color.Deep aromas of powdered stone, minerals, spearmint and gingery spices. Rich, full and rather powerful, with impressive texture and ripe acids. This has the complexity and volume of a grand cru.
(from purchased grapes) Pale green-yellow color. High-toned aromas of lime, spearmint and pepper. Juicy, tightly wound and pure, with a round texture and no hard edges. Shows a floral element but only moderate complexity. Offers less body today than the Vignoble de Vaulorent and finishes rather tight.
(domain) Pale yellow-green color. Pure, scented nose hints at citrus peel and pepper. Sweet, ripe and peachy, in a rather gentle style. Very ripe, rich and long, though not especially complex or fat. For the Batard lover, notes director Hervet.
Complex, vibrant nose combines crystallized lemon peel, pineapple, mint and powdered stone. Round, ripe and seamless but with lovely inner-mouth energy thanks to the chalk and lemonflavors. This has real flavor authority and finishes with a lovely whiplash of fruit.
(domain) Pale yellow-green. Knockout nose combines citrus skin, spearmint, coriander, quinine and powdered stone, plus a note of toasty oak. Densely packed, sweet and ripe, with suggestions of ginger and quinine. Not especially complex but creamy and very ripe. Finishes with impressive gingery length.
Pale yellow-green. Very discreet aromas of apple and spice. Creamy-sweet and round, with notes of apple, pineapple and spearmint. A rather easygoing grand cru with a lushtexture. Slow-building, very rich finish features powdered stone and white flowers. A "competition" wine, notes Hervet, who adds that Preuses needs time to become minerally, like Vaudesir and Vaillons.
(domain) Pale yellow-green. Musky, steely aromas of pineapple, quinine and ginger. Dense, spicy and suave, with chewy, superripeflavors of stone, mint and ginger. Like a block of stone and distinctly Corton-Charlemagne-like. Finishes very long and ripe. Lacks only the grip of the best vintages.
Utterly primary aromas of silex, mint, quinine and ginger, lifted by floral perfume. Sweet, broad, dense and very young; fat but not at all heavy, with a suggestion of lactic, leesy reduction. Quite supple, even gentle, for this great grand cru. Very long, slow-mounting finish coats the palate with dusty stone. Today the huge Valmur is almost more focused and classic.
($25; domain) Pale yellow. Honey and pear on the nose. Fat, oily, sweet and accessible. Rich flavors of mint and oystery, iodiney reduction. Nicely balanced and plenty ripe.
($30) Exotic apricot, wet stone and acacia honey on the nose, along with a note of oyster shell. Fat and broad but not overly sweet. Truffley note in the middle palate. Doesn't offer the definition of a classic year, but there's a mineral suggestion lurking. Finishes with notes of honey and nuts.
($40; from a very warm site) Rather closed nose hints at nuts. Then fresher in the mouth, with a brisk citrus quality and firm supporting minerality. Despite the fact that this wine comes from a very warm spot, it seems less extreme-and more expressive-than the Montmains. Like so many 2003 Chablis, this firmed up a bit as its underlying soil character emerged during its last months of elevage
Very closed on the nose, hinting at oyster shell and nuts. Then rich and minerally in the mouth, with lovely verve for the vintage (these vines face northeast). This seems less burned by the sun than most 2003s. Rich and iodiney. Finishes dense and long, if youthfully tight. This is better than it showed a year ago following the bottling, even if it's quite closed on the nose.
Peach, apricot and nuts on the nose. Fruit-drivenflavors of yellow fruits and smoke, with a slight minty nuance. Showing more honey than minerals. Not hugely rich or ripe, but tasty right now. Finishes sweet and fresh, with a gingery nuance.
($40) Very minerally aromas of quinine and crushed stone; shows little sign of the vintage signature. Rich, round and deep, with wonderfully ripe but also impressively aromatic flavors of citrus skin, crushed stone, ginger and minerals. Broad and full but remains light on its feet. Slowly mounting, long finish shows little sign of the wine's 13% alcohol.
($50) Pale yellow. Honey, wet stone, peach, apricot confit and nut meats on the complex nose, along with a suggestion of red berries. Rich, fat, highly concentrated and verging on exotic, with a strong honeyed character that's more suggestive of Fourchaume from the northern end of this large premier cru. Finishes a bit youthfully aggressive and nutty. A major mouthful of wine, even if it's less gripping and minerally than the Montee de Tonnerre. Part of the domain Fourchaume juice was declassified, but the rest was considered strong enough to be included in this special bottling.
Spearmint and wet stone on the nose. Juicy and penetrating, with a strong wet stone and oyster shell character. Rather elegant wine, without any heaviness. This has taken on shape and spine since last spring. Juicy, pure and impressively long. May be even better than the 2004.
($65) Superripe aromas of honey and spices. Then dense and surprisingly juicy in the mouth, with peach and steely notes and very good definition. Ripe and sweet but not heavy. The finish gives a slightly tannic impression.
($75) High-pitched aromas of minerals, spearmint and grapefruit. Very suave on entry, then wonderfully sweet in the middle but lifted by ginger and crushed stone. This offers terrific energy and length, with the finish showing near-magical verve for the vintage. Already quite accessible. All of these 2003s can be enjoyed soon, even if the best of them will surprise with their longevity. If the "regular" Bougros is in a Cote d'Or style, this is very much classic Chablis.
($75) Rich aromas of honey and nuts; less pure and delineated than the last few samples. Then round in the mouth but a bit dry-edged, with notes of citrus peel, oatmeal and nuts. Not a minerally style of grand cru. Not bad, but a bit disappointing in the context of these 2003 grand crus.
($75) Pure aromas of ginger, flowers and spices. Dense, intensely flavored and quite suave, with very fresh spearmint and mineralflavors. Like the Grenouilles, this big, rich and concentrated wine may be even better than the 2004 version. Expands impressively on the back end, finishing very long and pure.
($75) Pale color. Aromas of peach, oyster shell and wet and powdered stone are far more vineyard- than vintage-typical. Sweet, dense and hugely concentrated (the yield was a reported 19 hectoliters per hectare, compared to 40 in 2004), withflavors of very ripe fruits perked up by lime and powdered stone. Finishes with outstanding length and full ripeness. From a selection massale that typically yields tiny grapes, with a lot of millerandageAlong with Fevre's Clos, one of the pinnacles of the vintage.
($80) Classic if subdued Clos aromas of minerals, mint, wet stone and menthol; transcends the vintage. Then superconcentrated and penetrating in the mouth, with great lift and clarity to the citrus and mineralflavors. This really saturates the palate without giving the slightest suggestion of heaviness. Wine of the vintage material here. Finishes with outstandingbreadth and length.