Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two Premier Cru Chablis as different as can be

Well, look at that! It's been a half-year since I last wrote something, and you would be within your right to ask, "Hey! What the heck happened?"

What happened was a lot of wine, but something always seemed to get in the way of writing about it. And by the time I got the time, my tasting notes weren't all that clear. And besides, I was going through a string of some rather ordinary wines.

But recently I had a reason to break out two Chablis Premier Cru that had been in my closet, er my cellar, for slightly more than a year. Both were 2008 vintages and both were similarly priced at less than $30, which made them all the more exciting. But that's where the similarities ended, because these wines were as different as they could be.

The first was a Vaillons by Thierry Laffay. This was a very good wine, but it really didn't taste at all like what I would expect from a Chablis. I served it as an apparatif with my sister and her husband when they visited in late June. We had some delicious smoked salmon and shrimp cocktail.

The Vaillons tasted very citrusy, more like a Sauvignon Blanc with bright grapefruit and high acidity. As I said, it was good, but it was so different than any Chablis I had in the past. There was no brightness, no mineral notes.

We took the second bottle with us to a tappas restaurant. The Montée de Tonnerre from Domaine Servin had slightly less alchohol by volume that the Thierry Laffay (12.5 percent versus 12.8 percent), which I don't know made a difference, but the Chablis from Domaine Servin had all the classice elements of a Premier Cru Chablis. It had the bright, crisp flavor of fruit with just a hint of acid, giving it a smooth and delicious finish. It had a mineral quality like a laughing brook, and a finish that was just long enough.

Clearly this was the better wine of the two. And it went exceptionally well with our tappas, particulary some grilled squid charred with the squid's ink.

These were both good wines, but the one by Domaine Servin was truly the best. So don't be surprised if you find a Chablis that tastes more like a Sauvignon Blanc. There are, apparently, a few out there.

And my rating? The Vaillons I will score with an 8, while the Domaine Servin I will give a 9.