Christophe et Fils
Sebastien Christophe is a name that I had been hearing for quite some time from some of the growers that I work with whenever the subject of Chablis came up. The Domaine Christophe is only 9 years old and founded with vines inherited by his Grandfather. Despite being such a young estate the quality and exacting nature of his work has meant that his wines are eagerly sought out and quickly sold out despite him being completely unknown by the media. His success has come completely by word of mouth.
As a man Sebastien is energetic and quizzical, perhaps even restless but it is easy to see he has that special 'je ne sais quoi' found in all the best winemakers. Every aspect of his viticulture and vinification is thought out and effected with precision. There is nuance and fine detail in his wines that pleases the toughest connoisseurs and they are nicely concentrated thanks to Sebastien's understanding of the importance of low yields.
He conducts the alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in steel, and ages the wine in steel (with a mix of older barrels for the 1er Crus). He looks for elegance, length, purity and minerality in his wines and has extremely exacting standards with the result that the quality is sensational.
The domaine and its vineyards are in the commune of Fyé, across the river from the town of Chablis. The hills are steep here and overlook Les Clos, Blanchots and Montee de Tonnerre. I found the biggest suprise in his cellar was his Chablis Vielles Vignes made from two parcels, both circa 50 years of age; one above 1er Cru Fourchaume and another parcel above Grand Cru Les Clos; all raised in stainless steel allowing the terroir to shine through, it displays beautiful bracing acidity and vibrancy. It also has that attractive green and platinum shimmer and is particularly concentrated and suave. A terrific village, that quite frankly is easily of 1er Cru standard.
The wines of Domaine Christophe all display classic Chablis notes of shells and green apples on the nose, along with a pretty, underlying hint of white flower and lemon. It's the kind of bright nose that gives the drinker an intimation of the acidity and tension that will follow on the palate, which is indeed nervy but also generous with an appealing balance of flavours offset by a rocky, shell-y harmony. The wine finishes with the sort of mouth-coating minerality and mouth-watering citrusy acidity that makes Chablis a favourite amongst lovers of wines that truly reflect their terroir.
This estate is one of my best discoveries with a brilliant young winemaker well worth following.