If you drink Chablis, chances are you know force-of-nature Patrick Piuze: He is justly famous for his expansive series of micro-batch wines that showcase the unique villages, vineyard sites, and valleys of Chablis. Today’s “Terroir de la Chapelle” is sourced from his most northerly site: Just across the Serein River from Premier Cru Fourchaume, this sloped vineyard is a blueprint of 12th century Chablisienne terroir and the wine brilliantly highlights every crisp mineral, every layer of tantalizing fruit, and every fossil in these pure Kimmeridgian soils.
Typically, when you see a wine labeled simply as ‘Chablis,’ you’re getting wine sourced from an assortment of varied vineyards within the Chablis AOC zone, but Patrick Piuze is all about site-specificity at each rung of the Chablis quality ladder. Take “Terroir de la Chapelle”: Piuze sources entirely from a vineyard with half-century-old vines on the outskirts of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, just northwest of Chablis proper and its seven Grand Crus. Patrick is the ultimate ‘micro-négociant,’ so we don’t typically get much of any one of his wines, because there isn’t much to acquire! If you love Chablis (everyone loves Chablis), this is a tremendously spot-on bottle that accentuates the purity of naturally farmed Chardonnay; it’s a tough find in America, so the mere fact that we can offer up to 12 bottles today is a feat in itself. Better yet, this wine will effortlessly age over the next decade, so if you’re seeking a great cellar selection, look no further.
Piuze, a Montreal native, first came to Chablis prominence in the early 2000s. He worked for the legendary Jean-Marc Brocard domaine, among others, before going out on his own in 2008. He’s known for his gregarious personality, which has served him well in cultivating relationships with the myriad growers he sources fruit from. He makes a lot of wine, or rather, he releases so many different terroir-specific bottlings it’s hard to keep track. He is as obsessive about his village-level wines (this wine is evidence of that) as his Premier and Grand Crus. All of the fruit for Piuze’s range is sustainably farmed and hand-harvested, and his Premier and Grand Cru wines are fermented and aged in used oak barrels (whereas many Chablis houses prefer to ferment in stainless steel). His wines display uncommon depth and texture without losing their sense of place, and anyone who’s been subscriber for a while knows of our abiding love of his entire range.
“Terroir de la Chapelle” comes from a plateau on the left bank of the Serein River, across from Premier Cru Fourchaume and due north of Premier Cru Beauroy. Uniquely, these vines, all planted in 1974, face east-west and never come in direct contact with the sun. So if you love the vibrancy and sheer freshness of classic Chablis, this bottle is calling your name. The vines are tended by hand, plowed, and never exposed to chemicals or synthetic fertilizers. After hand harvesting, they undergo a lengthy fermentation (as long as five months) on ambient yeasts without temperature control—“it’ll happen when it happens.” The wine then goes through 100% malolactic fermentation before aging on its lees for one year in 30% neutral French barrels and 70% stainless steel tanks. It is lightly fined and filtered with natural products.
Piuze’s 2016 “Terroir de la Chapelle” shines a pale straw-yellow in the glass with bright green highlights at the rim. It reveals a subtle nose that isn’t as forward and generous as its 2015 sibling, ”Terroir de Fyé,” that you may have tried last year. However, it is more energetic and mineral-driven, while retaining alluring layers of Key lime, citrus blossoms, white peach skin, salted lemon, crushed chalk, acacia, yellow pear, green apple, white flowers, oyster shells, oyster shells...and oyster shells. It’s powerful, focused, utterly refreshing on the mid-palate, and intensely mineral heavy on the finish. All in all, Patrick deserves a sonorous round of applause for crafting such a classic, site-specific bottle of Chardonnay; this cannot be mistaken for anything other than top-flight Chablis! If cellaring, you can lay this wine down for 5-10 years and enjoy its graceful evolution along the way. Enjoying sooner? Ideally decant for 30-45 minutes before serving in Burgundy stems that allow robust swirling and aeration. As always, I advocate for a warmer serving temperature, about 55 degrees, to allow the wine’s texture and aromatics to fully blossom. For those counting, I mentioned ‘oyster shell’ three consecutive times, so why not pair “Terroir de la Chapelle” with some oysters from the West Coast—check out this guide and visit your local seafood market to see if they have any in stock. For those who don’t love oysters, this wine will pair with just about any first course or seafood-based main course you can throw at it. Cheers!
Partial Neutral French
Burgundy Stems / All-Purpose Whites