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Is Chablis the best go-to for quality and value in Burgundy? Today’s Premier Cru discovery from the hallowed “Mont de Milieu” vineyard answers with a resounding YES! There is nowhere else in this famous region where you can get the same sublime combination of geology and climate, transferred as pure, heavenly terroir in a glass, for such a small investment. Fellow white Burgundy freaks, this is the magic potion of minerals and earth, citrus and sea breeze that you want to open almost every day.
And the good news is we have a price that actually allows that possibility! Like all great Chablis, the “Mont de Milieu” from the tiny estate of Alain Gautheron can refresh and invigorate you on warm, sunny days, but it is also a wine to sit with and contemplate when the weather turns cooler. There are precious few wines that seem perfectly situated for the upcoming July 4th weekend, and the fall dining season, and the holidays and the spring, and basically every day of the calendar year. There is no situation where pulling the cork on this beauty won’t be met with expressions of amazement and joy from your guests, which is why you should be buying it by the case, or cases, before it’s gone!
The Domaine Gautheron goes back seven generations, but it was the namesake, Alain, who really helped put them on the path forward when he joined his father back in 1977. Together they grew the estate from eight to 25 hectares—or, from microscopic to just small—adding precious parcels of Premier and Grand Cru vineyards to the portfolio. In 2000. Alain’s son, Cyril, joined the team and became the catalyst to push the estate fully into the 21st century. This meant building a new cuverie (cellar) with updated equipment and more space. But it also meant focusing on the vineyards, where everything was converted to sustainable, or lutte raisonnée, farming and a conversion to using fully organic methods in certain vineyards also began. The combination of a clean, modern cellar and meticulous farming is what allows the Gautherons to so perfectly transfer each distinct terroir into their offerings.
One of those terroirs is in the famous and ancient vineyard of Mont de Milieu. Located on the right bank of the Serein river, just a stones throw south of the Grand Cru slopes, its name marks the old border between the kingdoms of Burgundy and Champagne. This perfectly situated 1er Cru faces south/southeast and is draped in sunshine for the entire day. It is also protected from the bitter north winds by a forest that grows on the top of the hill. This ideal exposition leads to its reputation for producing more powerful, structured Chablis that is literally and figuratively a tiny notch below the Grand Crus.
Of course, that divine setup could be a liability in a very hot, dry vintage like 2020. But not so at Domaine Gautheron! Their pristine farming and taut, stainless steel only style of winemaking produced a wine of exceptional balance; the SommSelect tasting team and I were all blown away by how seamless and elegant it showed. Yes, the texture is perhaps a touch richer, but there is also an excellent backbone of energetic acidity and a classic core of pure minerality. Decant for about an hour and serve at around 50 degrees, not too cold, in a Burgundy stem and you’ll be rewarded with layers of crisp apples, lime zest, white flowers, lemongrass, and hints of salty seashell. Of course it’s excellent with anything fresh from the sea, especially richer dishes like monk or swordfish, but it's also a delight with a simple piece of good cheese and a crunchy baguette. It really is the perfect sub $50 white Burgundy for any occasion, stock up today.
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