For one of the worlds great wines, Chablis gets very little respect these days in the grand scheme of things. It is white Burgundy after all, more geologically than geographically being closer to Champagne than the Côte d'Or, but the name Chablis doesn't carry as much weight as Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet, for example. This wasn't the case some decades ago when California vintners, and many others worldwide, made wines with names like "Pink Blush Chablis" along with their ersatz "Champagne". It was a famous wine back then whose name was synonomous with quality. Talk about counterfeits. Recent legislation has cleared up most of those issues but the damage has clearly been done with a couple of generations of wine drinkers growing up knowing Chablis only as that headache-inducing, slightly sweet white that came in a jug with a little ring handle. While still a fairly difficult wine to find anywhere but specialized retailers of imports, Chablis’ popularity has been growing rapidly over the last decade or so, due in no small part to the efforts of a handful of conscientious growers and importers beating the bushes for great values. Lots of love from high profile wine critics doesn’t hurt either.
The Picq family has farmed vineyards in Chablis for generations and the Gilbert Picq domaine, named for its since retired founder, is now being run by sons Didier and Pascal Picq. Didier is in charge of winemaking and Pascal manages the vineyards while their sister manages the office. A true family domaine. Farming here is done according to the principles of lutte raisonée, literally“reasoned battle” in French (best translated as supervised control oin Englidh). This is a very pragmatic approach to farming where treatments are applied only when absolutely necessary and biodiversity is encouraged in the vineyards to help create balance and natural protection for the vines to decrease the need for such treatments. It’s really a happy medium between convention and the strict requirements for organic certification. Severe pruning and spring de-budding help keep yields down; a necessary first step in making great Burgundy. In the cellar, all wines are fermented on native yeasts and both fermentation and aging take place only in stainless steel.
The Dessus le Carriére vineyard, meaning above the quarry, is comprised of two parcels planted in the 1970’s on a huge slab of pure limestone with a thin layer of Kimmeridgian clay and limestone shards above. This is the rock that defines the unique Chablisienne expression of great Chardonnay; wines of depth with racy acidity, powerful minerality and purity of fruit. These two parcels are the first to be harvested and the last to be bottled chez Picq. Even later than the 1er Crus. This particular cuvée has well deserved reputation for being a wine that performs above and beyond its humble AC Chablis village appellation. Flowers, citrus and spice on the nose with subtle stone fruit and Granny Smith apple flavors and a finish of racy minerality. Always the most delicate wine in the cellar, the 2011 is particularly transparent.
I’m not a huge fan of rating wines by any kind of point based ratings systems for wine but I thought that David Schildknechts notes, as always, were worth taking a look at:
It is perhaps not coincidental that these wines, which I have often characterized asamong the finest values in Chablis (and which regularly make my own shipping list) are also grown and crafted by someone who I've come to recognize as among the most humbly down-to-earth, affable and enthusiastic (yet immune to hyperbole) of vignerons [ie. Didier Picq].
David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate, issue 2008, August 2013.
Chablis Dessus La Carrière 2011
Hints of iodine and lemon zest add intrigue and invigoration to a long, vibrant, resonant finish that takes one way beyond "village level" performance. Look for this extraordinary value to impress and delight through at least 2020. 92 points