After picking early in 2005, William Fevre got an early jump on the harvest in 2006 as well, beginning three days before the ban de vendange with their holding in Les Preuses and finishing by September 21. Winemaker/director Didier Seguier is obsessed with making classic, minerally Chablis from clean fruit picked with healthy acidity levels. "Our grapes were healthy in 2006, with no botrytis," he told me. Little or no sorting of the fruit was necessary-in contrast to 2005, when hail in July and rain in late August triggered some rot, not to mention high sugar levels. Perhaps for this reason, the '06s tended to finish a bit drier than the earlier set of wines, and Seguier gives the edge to the '06s for their greater purity of aromas and flavors. This was one of the few 2006 sets I saw that showed the green tinge of classic Chablis with firm acidity and minerality. Seguier emphasized that although the domain wines are aged partly in oak, William Fevre purchased just 5 new barrels in '06 (out of a total of 800!). The barrels used here average four to five years old. Unless otherwise noted, I tasted only domain wines. (Henriot, Inc., New York, NY)
Previously recommended: 2005 Chablis Domaine (88), 2005 Chablis Beauroy (89), 2005 Chablis Montmains (89), 2005 Chablis Les Lys (89+?), 2005 Chablis Vaillons (88), 2005 Chablis Mont de Milieu (89+?), 2005 Chablis Montee de Tonnerre (92), 2005 Chablis Fourchaume (91), 2005 Chablis Fourchaume "Vignoble de Vaulorent" (92), 2005 Chablis Grenouilles (90), 2005 Chablis Vaudesir (92+?), 2005 Chablis Valmur (93).
Pale, green-tinged color. Pure, fresh nose dominated by citrus fruits. Juicy and fresh but supple, with ripe citrus flavors and a hint of mint. There's a suggestion of exotic fruits here but also good energy.
Pale, green-tinged color. Aromas of honeydew melon, lime, quinine and mint, plus a suggestion of green papaya. Ripe and supple but juicy, with an herbal/spicy element to the melon and lime flavors. Shows good intensity but this is not at all a fat style of Beauroy.
Pale, green-tinged color. Cool, subtle nose offers quinine, lime, fresh herbs and mint, plus a stony nuance. Silky on the attack, then suave and fresh in the middle, in a distinctly elegant style. Finishes brisk and refined, with a dusty quality and firm mineral spine extending the wine's fruit. Made from a blend of Butteaux, Montmains and Forets: the later-ripening Butteaux parcel always gives this wine its freshness, notes winemaker Didier Seguier.
Good green-tinged color. Aromas of lime, white flowers and mint. Then sweeter and creamier than the Montmains, conveying more of a sense of structure and size but less elegant in style. Rich, layered, broad and classically dry. Less suave today than the Montmains but this is quite smooth.
(juice from Fevre's north-facing vines here could be blended into its Vaillons but is vinified and bottled separately) Pale, green-tinged color. Captivating aromas of lime blossom, powdered stone and mint; I would not have picked the vintage here. Very rich and strong in extract yet light on its feet, with a distinctly cool character and a dominant flavor of dusty stone. This is already tightening up. Classic long, rising finish of minerals and lime boasts excellent energy and grip.
(not a domain wine, but the William Fevre team chooses the harvest date and picks the grapes) Pale color. Aromas of peach and spice, plus a faint hint of banana. Fat and sweet on the palate, in a plumper, more easygoing style than most of the domain wines from this vintage. Enticing flavor of red grapefruit. Following the sample of Les Lys, this came across as a bit warm, ripe and full, but there's good power and length here.
Brisk nose combines crushed stone, grapefruit and fresh pineapple. Dense, supple and rich, with lovely depth of lemon and mineral flavor. Offers an exhilarating combination of sweetness and energy. The long, dusty finish is quite stylish.
Pale color. Musky but rather reticent aromas of apricot and wet stone. Very ripe, broad and round but fresh, with a peach flavor complicated by a positive earthiness. Finishes quite full, with very good peachy persistence.
Good pale color. Reserved aromas of citrus peel and powdered stone. Rich, silky and fairly large-scaled but with a dense minerally character keeping the wine quite fresh. This boasts almost grand cru-like size and breadth. A powerful, minerally wine with a very long, rising finish that saturates the palate with dusty stone. William Fevre is the largest owner of Fourchaume, with 3.63 hectares of vines in eight parcels. The selection for this wine is based on tasting, but normally features mostly the oldest parcels.
(not domain) Good pale, green-tinged color. Very ripe aromas of peach and apricot border on exotic. In a distinctly rich style, with nicely integrated acidity framing the fruit-driven flavors. Quite fat in the style of the year, with a sappy sweetness to the fruit, but can't quite match the Vignoble de Vaulorent for grip.
Pale, green-tinged color. Highly aromatic nose offers lime, menthol and powdered stone, plus a touch of gingery spice. Rich, fat and suave, with lovely ripe acidity framing the sweet peach flavor. Doesn't have the cut of a more classic year but this is nonetheless in a fairly delicate style. William Fevre owns half the surface of this grand cru (6 of 12 hectares), and winemaker Seguier notes that this wine has been stronger in recent years owing to earlier picking.
Pale, green-tinged color. Highly nuanced, brisk aromas of powdered stone, lime blossom, grapefruit and quinine. Silky on entry, then suave and vibrant in the middle, with a strong minerally, chalky character, lovely subtle sweetness and an uncommonly fine-grained texture. Finishes with superb rising length and palate-saturating crushed stone. No clay here, just pure Kimmeridgian limestone on an extremely steep south-facing slope.
Bright, green-tinged color. Spicy stone fruits, grapefruit, fresh pineapple, flint and minerals on the nose. Very ripe, fleshy, broad and sweet but with lovely integrated acidity giving shape to the grapefruit, pineapple and spice flavors. As round as this is, it boasts an exhilarating sugar/acid balance. Tightens up on the very long finish-a good sign for the wine's potential in bottle.
Exotic spice notes complicate the grapefruit and pineapple fruitiness on the nose; a bit less exuberant today than the Vaudesir, with hints of menthol and licorice. Then drier and more serious in the mouth, offering classic flavors of citrus peel, menthol, licorice and minerals. A very dense, fresh wine with a brisk, palate-staining back end. The crop level here was a very low 30 hectoliters per hectare, notes director Stephane Follin-Arbelet, who pointed out that although yields ranged from 30 to 50 hectoliters across the house's holdings in '06, most of the cru bottlings come from old vines affected by a good bit of crop-reducing coulure
Pale, green-tinged color. Reticent, ethereal nose hints at pineapple, grapefruit and spices. Big and rich but airy in the mouth; shows the breadth of a wine from clay-rich soil but with no heaviness. Quite lush and seamless, with captivating flavors of white peach, grapefruit and minerals. Finishes very long and suave.
Pale color. Musky, minerally aromas of lemon, mint, raw pineapple and quinine; very backward and very Chablis. Silky on entry, then dense in the middle, with terrific thrust and depth to its very dry but ripe flavors of citrus peel, minerals and spices. Wonderfully concentrated, solid, powerfully structured grand cru with outstanding minerally persistence. Potentially the best vintage yet for this bottling and one of the early highlights of the vintage.
($68) Musky aromas of citrus fruits and gunflint. Fresh, fruity and concentrated if a bit youthfully subdued today. In a gentle, rounder style but with good spicy definition. Is this as dense as the '06?
($80) Pale, green-tinged color. Subtle, precise aromas of lime, quinine and minerals. Broad, rich and dry but with terrific grip and an impression of weightlessness. The complex flavors of powdered stone, minerals, lime blossom and citrus peel resemble those of the young '06. Superb classic Chablis with a rising finish and lovely minerality. Winemaker Didier Seguier gives the edge to the '06, though, for its greater purity.
($82) Good pale color with green highlights. Elegant nose hints at gunflinty silex, with pineapple emerging with aeration. Very rich and suave; in a rounder, fatter style than the Cote Bouguerots but with a bit less clarity and lift. Shows a more exotic peach quality in the middle palate. Finishes subtle, smooth and long.
($94) Pale green color. Pure but subdued aromas of lemon-lime and crushed stone. Intensely flavored and youthfully tight, offering sharply delineated citrus fruit, white peach and crushed stone elements. In a cooler style for the vintage, with just the slightest exotic hint to show that it's from a very warm year. The very long, rising finish displays uncommon precision for the vintage. But the young 2006 appears to be even longer and more minerally.