00 Mile de Noyers, Chablis Premier Cru Les Lys Vineyard
Maybe it's true that nothing good lasts forever, but I'd always assumed chardonnay was the exception. At its best, it goes from powerfully tart, food-friendly fruit flavors (apple, apple skins, pear, and raw quince) to an unceasing, arm-chilling nuttiness that I believe might actually resemble the outer limits of the universe (this tasting note has proven difficult to test). But at its worst, it actually tastes like chardonnay. And there's the big risk that Chablis runs. Save for the hot (weather and business) run in 1990, common Chablis--almost by rule (but not)--judiciously, if not parsimoniously, uses new oak. The point is, they're never slipping one past us. This isn't overpriced Cali chardonnay. It's not over-delicious Meursault. It's just the grape. Chardonnay. Which tastes like apples. No secrets. And, if you believe, sometimes the earth. Terroir. Whatever. I still believe there's a secret vial of chalk butter roux that the Chablisienne slip into their aged barrels. Or maybe all Chablis is made by student teachers and hall monitors after third-period French lit, dusting the erasers clean. Regardless, nine years in, the fruit's dead in this Noyers single vineyard bottling, which means it's all over. There's no creamy spiced oak coming out, no dank woody perfume. Just some apple--no better or worse than a fall lunch in the park--with the slightest finish of butter, and a fatigued sense of "who cares anyway?" More like an old albarino than Chablis. Shocking, maybe, or short-sighted of me, considering the provenance--a vintage that the brilliant wine writer Andrew Jefford rated as one of the greatest Chablis of all time, on par with the historic 1990. Perhaps ages and ages hence, I'll turn up another dusty bottle and find to everyone's great surprise all the complex flavors I was looking for were there, just hiding in the woodwork. Or maybe in Chablis there is no such place to hide.