LOUIS MICHEL & FILS, CHABLIS
BURGUNDY, FRANCE 2020
If you’re of a certain age, then your earliest memory of Chablis may be the cheap jugs from California that were widely available in the ’70s and ’80s. Chablis was not considered serious wine, and as a result the appellation, in the minds of many in this country, suffered. The perception of inferiority still lingers for many. But while this has been bad for Chablis, it’s been good for savvy collectors, who have taken advantage of one of the best values in wine. At a time when Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, and Chassagne-Montrachet are in such great demand, with some Montrachets commanding $500, there is great Chablis to be had for between $40-$120. And that remains the case, though in recent years, word has gotten out and it has become increasingly harder to find the great stuff.
All of which is why we are so thrilled this morning to bring you this brilliant quartet of Chablis, including two potential 95-point wines and a potential 94-point wine – all from 2020, all from the iconic Louis Michel & Fils (now helmed by the brilliant Guillaume Michel).
To understand our excitement, this Decanter commendation, from 2019, speaks to the exquisite craft that the estate has long embodied: “If it's purity you want in your Chablis,” they wrote, “Guillaume Michel's wines are some of the most transparent in the appellation.”
But purity is not one thing, is it? It is the confluence of many things – elegance, clarity, definition, a delicacy of extraction. And though it might come across, in the final analysis, as a refinement of process, as simplicity, the truth is that simplicity is, well – not so simple.
At Domaine Louis Michel, the process begins far before the cellar, or even the vineyard. It begins with continuity and knowledge. For a long time, it was believed that the family has been producing wine since 1850, the year the estate opened, in the heart of the village of Chablis. In fact, new genealogical research shows that Guillaume’s ancestors were making wine at least as far back as 1640.
The emphasis, as it was for his father, is on the vineyard, not the cellar. As Bergman’s Bourgogne has noted, “Guillaume Michel … is a firm believer in the philosophy that if you do a good job in the vineyard, 90 percent of the work is done when the grapes arrive at the winery.” That good job amounts to vigilant vineyard management, frequent pruning and stemming, and limiting yields. In the cellar, he forgoes oak entirely for all his whites, the better to draw out the leanness and minerality of the varietal.
Razor-sharp, nutty, rich, with delicate muted fruit, this is old-school Chablis. Chablis that lives up to the name.
Nor are we alone in our enthusiasm. The critics have been unanimous in their praise for the Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir, which, wrote Inside Burgundy’s Jasper Morris, shows itself to be “perfectly well balanced,” with a “sense of power” that “slowly grow[s] in the mouth.
He awarded it a potential 95 points, as he also did for the 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre. A “beautifully balanced finish,” he raved. “Really very fine indeed. And exceptionally persistent.” (We’re so thrilled to offer such an elegant Burgundy for a best price of less than $50 a bottle.)
Allen Meadows, of Burghound, sees a potential 94 points for the Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles 2020, and even went so far as to give it special billing as a “Burghound Sweet Spot.” His notes capture the many-feathered experience of a Louis Michel wine: “Aromas of green fruit, citrus peel, spice and sea breeze give way to succulent but reasonably refined larger-scaled flavors that coat the palate with sappy dry extract before concluding in a powerful, driving and equally structured finale. Excellent.”
Folks, if you love Chablis, these are four you absolutely don’t want to miss.
And for those of you who think you don’t love Chablis, or who merely only like it, these just may be the wines – deeply pleasurable, eminently versatile – to convert you to passionate devotees.
Order yours now!
*Offer NOT valid in-store. This offer is made pre-arrival, with wines estimated to be delivered to your preferred store in Summer/Fall 2022. With the supply chain issues that we are seeing globally, there may be some unforeseen delays which could affect the ETA. All sale prices are the lowest available at Total Wine & More and ONLY valid through Concierge Sales. No further discounts or coupons may be applied. Offer not valid in KY, MI, NV, NY, or TN. This offer is for ONE WEEK, or until sold out, and will expire on Monday, May 9, 2022.