"The 2005s are tight now, but they're more minerally, and more typical Chablis," said Jean-Loup Michel. "The '06s will be more agreeable in their youth, and should be drunk before the 2005s." Michel began harvesting late in 2006, on September 20. "The fruit was healthy at the beginning but it was necessary to pick quickly as the grapes got overripe in a hurry," he said. When I asked Michel if September 20 wasn't too late to start harvesting in '06, he replied: "With my style of making wines entirely in cuve, which is a much less oxidative vinification, I don't need to pick too early." The 2006 grand crus will not be bottled until next March. (Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL)
Previously recommended: 2005 Petit Chablis (85), 2005 Chablis (86), 2005 Chablis Vaillons (88), 2005 Chablis Fourchaume (87), Chablis Montee de Tonnerre (89).
($26) Apple, pear and hay on the fairly fresh nose. Fat, ripe and on the soft side, with somewhat blurry flavors and a slightly exotic whiff of banana. Fat for village wine but needs more thrust. A bit warm on the back.
($37; already fined and ready for bottling) Pale color. Citrus and wet stone aromas are reticent but fairly pure. Hints of minerals and lemon in the mouth. Comes across as a bit austere today, and warm on the back end. I found myself looking for more cut and thrust. Along with the Petit Chablis and Chablis from this producer, this wine will be sealed with a screwcap.
($40; this and the subsequent '06s had not yet been fined in early June) Subtly complex aromas of lemon, white flowers and hazelnut, with a whiff of reduction. Nicely ripe but also offers more energy and cut than the Montmain, with subtle notes of pineapple and stony minerals. Finishes firm.
($37) Good pale color. Subtle aromas of grapefruit, lemon, acacia flower and musky quinine. Firmly built, even a bit youthfully austere, but there's good breadth and minerality here. Finishes juicy and dry, with a firm backbone.
($41) Very ripe aromas of dried fruits, honey and earth; lower-toned than this producer's other 2006 premier crus. Fat, sweet and a bit exotic, offering flavors of apricot, peach, petrol, lichee and banana. A plump wine that conveys an impression of alcohol and a slightly blurry aspect.
($43) Reserved nose hints at crushed stone, acacia flower, menthol and citrus peel. A step up in intensity over the foregoing premier crus, with brisk mint and mineral notes currently dominating the wine's citrus character. Nothing exotic about this! The firmest and stoniest of these premier crus, and still holding material in reserve. Finishes with very good persistence.
($68) Pale yellow. Pear, lemon, minerals and white truffle on the fresh nose. Juicy, intense, fat and rather powerful, but not at all overripe, with notes of pear, flowers and mint. Finishes with lingering sweetness but also a touch of youthful austerity. Less expressive today than the Montee de Tonnerre.
($73) Pear, hazelnut and white flowers on the nose. Broad and suave but airy rather than fat, with hints of white flowers, licorice, herbs and mint. Dry but rich grand cru Chablis in a classic and rather backward style. Finishes long, with notes of raw pineapple and stone. Like the Montee de Tonnerre, this has material in reserve.
($73) Good pale color. Expressive, slightly exotic aromas of apricot and nuts. Large-scaled, sweet, rich and showy, but less pure than the Clos. Solid acids frame the citrus and stone fruit flavors. But today I find the back end of this wine a bit alcoholic, with a note of banana showing. An awkward showing today.
($37; screwcap version) Aromas of citrus peel, smoke and baked bread. Rich and chewy, with mineral, spice and mint flavors complemented by toasted bread and oatmeal. This has good stuffing but I picked up a slightly tired nutty note on the back.
($37; bottled with a regular cork) Pale yellow. Purer, more minerally nose than the screwcap version, offering lemon and acacia blossom notes. Brisk and firm-edged, with very good cut and intensity to its lemon and mineral flavors. The screwcap bottling seems simple by comparison. Finishes classically dry, with a juicy citric and stone quality and very good cut and length. Here's at least one case where I preferred a standard cork to a screwcap.
($36) Pale bright yellow. Slightly reduced, lower-toned aromas of silex, stone and truffle. Round and large-scaled but dry and backward; almost monolithic today but with very good volume. Initially I wanted more definition and cut, but this tightened up quickly in the glass, showing good lemony acidity.
($64) Pale lemon-yellow color. Tightly wound, subtle nose hints at lemon and acacia flower. At once dense and juicy, with firm acids framing and lifting the lemon and mint flavors. On the lean side and a bit youthfully disjointed, even austere, but this finishes with more grip than the '06 and very good length. Needs time. Incidentally, Michel described this wine as "round like the '06" but I found it more difficult to taste.
($68) Good bright, pale yellow. Highly complex nose melds silex, fern, wild herbs, smoke and flowers. Very suave on entry, then concentrated and rather powerful in the middle, with terrific thrust and classically dry-but-rich flavors of raw pineapple, citrus peel and wet stone. Quite austere-almost astringent-on the back end, today, in need of a good seven or eight years of patience. Michel's portion of Clos is located in the middle of the hill-"both longitudinally and latitudinally," as he described it.
($68; this is 13.5+% alcohol) Good pale color. Musky, reticent aromas of lemon, menthol and white truffle. Rich and silky, with nicely integrated acidity framing the supple flavors of lemon and white flowers. Conveys a slightly sweet impression but the flavors are classic. Finishes dense and aromatic, with a perfumed note of raw pineapple. This has turned out well.