Yesterday afternoon (9 June) the London wine merchant Bordeaux Index hosted a short five-wine vertical of Domaine William Fèvre’s Chablis Grand Cru Bougros, spanning 2008 to 1998.
Fèvre is one of the great names of Chablis, with a history stretching back over 250 years and (I believe) the largest single ownership of Grands Crus vineyards – just over 15 hectares, which represents 15% of total Grands Crus plantings, which themselves are only 2% of all Chablis production.
In the 1980s William Fèvre was a vocal champion of Chablis terroir, insisting that the wine could be made only on the Kimmeridgean chalk soil for which the region is famed. He condemned those that insisted on wider geographical boundaries, such as Jean Durup, as parvenus.
Yet perversely Fèvre made his wines with a lot of new oak, which completely overwhelmed any sense of Chablis minerality that might have been there in the first place. I never could reconcile his pro-terroir / pro-new oak stance.
The use of oak has been toned down in recent years, however. Didier Seguier became winemaker chez Fèvre in 1998, which is where our tasting began.
The Bougros vineyard is the north-west bookend of the Chablis Grands Crus, with mainly clay soil that tends to produce wines of density and richness.
I have been to Chablis only once so I am no expert on this!
Quite fat for a Chablis, with waxy, oak-influenced flavours. Generous and approchable. Now to 2015?
Fresher on the nose than the 2008 and better acidity on the palate. Superior length, too. Now to 2017?
Not as flabby as one might expect of a cool-climate wine from this notoriously scorched year, but the nose seemed a bit oxidative to me… Potent finish, though – long. Now to 2015?
Much more backwards than the previous wines and the most Chablisienne, with some green apple flavours and waves of acidity on the finish. 2012 to 2020?
Taut, as proper Chablis should be! Long and clean, with acidity as sharp as a hatchet. 2013 to 2025?
It was rather perverse that the older wines had the most acidity and the strongest Chablis character. I wonder if the more recent wines will age as well as this 1998, which is a relatively indifferent vintage, and the 2000.