Chablis’ New Challenger

Photograph by Michael Pirrocco

It used to be that Chablis – not the jug stuff from California, but real Chablis, the steely, mineral-drenched chardonnays from the Burgundy region of France – was a tale of two producers: Raveneau and Dauvissat. They made the finest wines in Chablis, the northernmost wine district in Burgundy and, in the view of many oenophiles, they made the only wines there that were worth drinking. In truth, there were some other quality estates but Domaine Francois Raveneau and Domaine Vincent Dauvissat (not be confused with Domaine Jean Dauvissat) made wines that were superior to anything else coming out of this small enclave with the famous name.

Lately, though, some very talented young winemakers have emerged in Chablis, and while Raveneau and Dauvissat remain the appellation’s standard-bearers, they’ve got some serious competition. Arguably the most promising of the rising stars is 39-year-old Patrick Piuze, a Canadian-born vintner who worked with some of Burgundy’s top winemakers before starting his eponymous Chablis domaine in 2008. In just four short years, and using only purchased fruit (he doesn’t yet have any vineyards of his own), Piuze has established his winery as a source of classic, toothsome Chablis. 2010 was an excellent vintage in Chablis, and the 2010 Patrick Piuze Chablis Les Forêts, from an acclaimed premier cru vineyard, is sensational. Bursting with citrus and flint aromas, it shows a textbook Chablis nose. On the palate, it’s a taut, zesty wine with superb depth of flavor and a firm spine of acidity. If there is lobster or any other shellfish in your future, this is the wine that should be in your glass. Few wines make hardcore oenophiles go weak in the knees faster than a stellar Chablis, and the 2010 Piuze Forêts is just that. [$49;]

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