William Fevre - the Chablis expert
In the Mesozoic (middle time in earth's history) it was about as warm on the equator as it was on the poles. Ice sheets as we know them today did not exist and large parts of the world were below sea level. Marine life experienced tremendous growth during this geological time. Ammonites, squid-like animals in shells, were particularly abundant in the water.
Ammonites are now extinct and you can only find their limestone houses as fossils in places where the earth has revealed the resting place of these animals. Such as in the southern English coastal town of Kimmeridge - after which the soil type consisting of these fossil layers was named - and the French Chablis area. Fortunately, the chardonnay grape - or beaunois as it is locally called here - benefits greatly from calmer soil. No wonder north of the town of Chablis, where the limestone soils are most fertile, are the steep Grand Cru vineyards.
Here, moreover, the climatic conditions, thanks to a natural shelter from the cutting cold wind, are perfect. They are (from west to east) Les Bougerots, Les Preuses, Vaudésir, Les Grenouilles, Valmur, Les Clos and Blanchot.
The Premiers Cru's Fourchaume, Montée de Tonnerre, Mont de Milieu and Vaucoupin also benefit from almost the same favorable, south-westerly, sun-oriented location.
William Fèvre has always been one of the great advocates of genuine, authentic Chablis. He even wrote a book about it: Le vrai Chablis et les autres. However, in 1998 he sold his company and devoted himself entirely to his vineyards in Chile. However, the reputation and success of his Chablis company and the great wines that come from it would never end.
The new owner was not the first to be the best. It was Joseph Henriot of the champagne house of the same name and also owner of the Burgundy house Bouchard Père & Fils in Beaune, who took charge. Significant detail: since the takeover, the wines of the domain have continued to gain in class and sophistication every year!
Domaine William Fèvre is a wonderful company with an unlikely potential. It boasts over fifty hectares of its own vineyards, making it the largest private vineyard owner in all of Chablis. More important is the fact that of these vineyards, 12 hectares have the status of premier cru and fifteen and a half hectares that of grand cru. Those 15½ hectares of grands crus amount to fifteen percent of the total area. So Fèvre is like no other a reference for Chablis.
The entire production process is geared to translating the nuances in terroir into the wines. Therefore, the greatest care is taken in the condition of the fruit. This means, among other things, that returns are limited. Picking is done by hand, the selection is strict and the pressing is done with 'grape-friendly' pneumatic presses. Vinification is also aimed at a transparent, pure style.
For the education of the wines - usually between ten and fifteen months - (new) oak is used with the utmost restraint. To quote one of France's leading wine guides, Le Classement by Bettane & Desseauve: "Purs, droits, délicatement boisés et subtilements différenciés selons les origines du terroir ..."
The crus benefits from storage. They only show their true class within five to ten years. If they are given younger, they will benefit greatly from carving. They are excellent wines for the table: with fish and white meat and in the most powerful version, even for lobster in cream sauce.
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