2012 Garnier et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos

img_0236Wine lovers are always on the hunt for their next delicious bottle. When I go to a new restaurant, I devour their wine list hoping to find treasures without an insane markup. On lucky days I am rewarded with a new producer, grape, or style of wine. That is exactly how I found the darling bottle I am writing about today.

I was vacationing with friends in Martha’s Vineyard when I stumbled across this bottle of Chablis on the wine list. A huge fan of Chablis (learn more about the wine/region here) I was super excited not only to find a bottle of Grand Cru on the menu, but at a reasonable price as well. I hadn’t had the producer before so I ordered the bottle, cautiously optimistic.

The Les Clos vineyard is the largest and most widely known Chablis Grand Cru. Its name is derived from the walls that originally surrounded the vineyard – clos being French for “enclosed area.” Over time, the term has come to refer particularly to walled vineyards: the Clos de Vougeot vineyard in Burgundy and Krug’s Clos du Mesnil vineyard in Champagne are two famous examples.

Chardonnay is the only grape grown in Les Clos, on the 66-acre (27ha) vineyard southwest-facing above the town of Chablis itself. This southwest exposure is considered one of the most important traits of Les Clos because it allows full afternoon sunshine, allowing the grapes to fully ripen. This happens alongside the naturally cool continental climate of the Burgundy region, so the grapes maintain their lively acidity. The vineyard also has white, stony soil, derived from the Kimmeridgian marl that underlies much of Chablis. This is leftover from an ancient sea which once covered northern France. In fact, thousands of fossilized oyster shells can be found in the vineyard. Les Clos wines are generally thought to be more powerful and intense than the other Grand Crus, famous for their long-term aging potential, and known for balancing power and finesse.

With credentials like that, it is hard to not be excited when you order a bottle. At the same time, a name of a vineyard alone is no guarantee. Every new bottle you try is a gamble.

I needn’t have worried. It was delicious. The fruit – citrus, apple, pear – was restrained, with honeyed almond cake, seashells and wet rocks present on the nose and palate with just a hint of floral (lilacs?) underneath. The acid was high, which was as expected, yet so well integrated the finish was long, silky and mouth coating yet made you salivate. We chose not to decant the wine, I particularly enjoyed witnessing it transform, getting richer and more complex the longer it sat in my glass. Being only 4 years old, the wine was still a baby, I image it will only get better over the next ten years.

Technical details (for wine geeks like me)

Average age of vines: 45 years old
Length of fermentation: On average 120 days
Yeasts: Natural
Malolactic Fermentation: 100%
Bacteria: Natural
Maturation: 100% in 3-6 yr old 228L oak barrels, 22 months
Lees Contact: Yes