2005 Jean Claude Chatelain Pouilly-Fume Les Chailloux

Jean Claude Chatelain Pouilly-Fume Les Chailloux Located across the Loire River from Sancerre, Pouilly Fume produces richer, more full-bodied wines than its better-known neighbor. The best Pouilly Fumes are among the most aromatic white wines in the world. Their superb complexity and characteristic aromas of smoky gunflint are the result of siliceous soil called Silex.

Map of Loire ValleyJean-Claude Chatelain's "Lex Chailloux" takes its name from pebbly, argilo-silex soil of Saint-Andelain, one of the seven villages in Pouilly Fume. Stubborn, fiercely opinionated, and quick-witted, Jean-Claude is something of a legend in Pouilly Fume due to his ruthless perfectionism in his vineyards--something we witnessed first hand when we visited him last summer. Jean-Claude couldn't wait to give us a tour of his vineyards, which are scattered throughout six of the appellation's seven villages. At first we wondered why Jean-Claude brought along a shovel. It turned out that instead of a "tour" we were treated to something more like a working demonstration of his farming methods. (But Jean-Claude's a generous host. After the long afternoon, we returned to his house for a sumptuous dinner that we washed down with a few gems from his cellar, including one bottle that Jean-Claude's grandfather made.)

Dating back to 1630, ten generations of winemaking Chatelains preceded Jean-Claude in Pouilly Fume--and Jean-Claude's son, Vincent, has founded his own label, making it an even twelve. Perhaps it's due to his family's long winemaking tradition that inclines Jean-Claude to take the long view. He believes that "true" Pouilly Fumes are an expression of the soil unique to the appellation.

Robert Parker rates 2005 as the best vintage in the last thirty years for Loire Valley whites. Jean-Claude's Chailloux is the perfect expression of Pouilly Fume from the hills of Saint-Andelain: brilliant white-gold in the glass with a sharp nose marked by aromas of minerals and flint. This wine has a rich texture, brilliant fresh fruit and structure. We think the Chailloux is the perfect accompaniment to lobster, but you could also serve it with other seafood or even white meat. Drink now-2010.