Domaine Christophe et fils

Sebastien Christophe

The Story

Sebastien Christophe is our budding superstar from Chablis. We love his wines, but we also love him, the ultimate underdog. While known for its stolid rigidity, France’s wine culture still allows for a lot of mobility. That’s how a young kid gifted just a couple of acres of average vineyard land in Chablis could rise up seemingly out of nowhere to make brilliant wine from the three most heralded Premier Crus in the region. That happened because he was also gifted with a good bit of moxie and a cranking worth ethic, which will you get far anywhere.What makes Sebastien’s wines so great? Well, as is the case in Chablis, it’s not the winemaking, which is pretty standard for the region, as the goal here is never to showcase cellar prowess, but rather the nature of the vineyard. Sebastien vinifies and ages wine overwhelmingly in stainless steel, as is the general practice of the region. Less than 10% of the wines see elevage in neutral oak barrels, providing a little textural and structural contrast to the bristly energy of stainless steel.

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He started with a small half hectare parcel of Petit Chablis from his family and made a run for it. After winemaking school he started to vinify this tiny parcel and has slowly acquired small parcels of village vineyards and a lot of Petit Chablis land. He also rents parcels that he farms entirely himself. Today, he has three premier crus on the right bank of the Serein river, Fourchaume, Mont de Milieu and Montée de Tonnerre. To our surprise, it’s difficult (almost impossible) to find his wines in town on any list. He exports almost everything, save the wines sold to some of the top spots in Paris. Luckily for us, we are the first to work with Christophe in the United States.

Lay of the Land

Chablis can be a wine that expresses its terroir more clearly than any other region in the world. The winemaking choices certainly influence the impression of the wine but they never really lose that unmistakable Chablisienne character imprinted by its special limestone soils, the Chardonnay grape and tense acidity that is encouraged by a cool continental climate. This wine growing region, once part of the Champagne province, is on the outer limits of still wine production. If mineral, high-acid and aromatic wine is your thing, Chablis is tough to beat.

Chablis’ soils are a combination of specific limestone formations known as Kimmeridgian and Portlandian with various mixtures of clay. This soil and its rocks result from millions of years of sedimentation of ancient, tiny oyster shells, and provide Chablis with its unique personality. One of the most northern appellations in all of Europe, Chablis is made exclusively from Chardonnay in a place so cool that it’s almost impossible to make good red wine. (There are exceptions to this in neighboring regions like Irancy and Epineuil where they grow Pinot Noir for red wine.)

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While the name Chablis in the US has an association with jug wine, wine lovers know that it produces some of the world’s greatest whites. Its classic aromatics show a “flinty” minerality, citrus fruits, white flowers and dried herbs, while the palate offers a focused and powerful expression. Typically, the wines have tremendous acidity backed up with a smooth chalky texture and flavors of under-ripe white stone fruits and citrus. With age, Chablis can develop savory honey notes and become absolutely sublime wines.

Domaine Christophe et fils - 2017 Petit Chablis

Price: $27.00
Size: 750ml
Availability:

Out of stock

Type of Wine: White
Grape(s): Chardonnay
Style: High acid, Mineral

The Wine

This is a great blind taste where even seasoned veterans within the wine trade can easily miss. The aromas of sweet preserved lemon, wet stone, flint and sweet and dry herbs are a clear sign of the region and grape, but it’s the palate that can be deceiving. It’s fully endowed body and softer edges places on the right bank of the Serein River (which is where all Sebastien’s vines are located), carries power like a Premier Cru and can often be equal in body to some elegantly crafted Grand Cru Chablis; however, it’s not a true comparison in depth of complexity found in classified crus.

It comes from a collection of parcels located on the plateau of Portlandian limestone behind the Grand Cru slope and Premier Crus on the right bank and is not as mineral-sharp as Petit Chablis grown on the left bank on more pure stone soils. Many of the plots are new and some date back to the 1960s, giving an average of about 12 years of age (noted in 2019). The altitude ranges between 190-250 meters with multiple aspects, some flat and others steep.

This wine is naturally fermented in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation is completed in all of Christophe’s wines and bottling takes place after 7-8 months depending on the vintage—less time for lower acid vintages and more time for higher ones. It’s fined with bentonite (a natural clay) and filtered with diatomaceous earth (fossilized sedimentary algae with a silaceous skeleton).

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: This is a great blind taste where even seasoned veterans within the wine trade can easily miss. The aromas of sweet preserved lemon, wet stone, flint and sweet and dry herbs are a clear sign of the region and grape, but it’s the palate that can be deceiving. It’s fully endowed body and softer edges places on the right bank of the Serein River (which is where all Sebastien’s vines are located) and carries power like a Premier Cru and can often be equal in body to some elegantly crafted Grand Cru Chablis; however, it’s not a true comparison in depth of complexity found in classified crus.

Vinification: After picking by hand, the grapes are pressed and settled for one day and racked into another tank before beginning the natural fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 1-2 months. A single batonnage may be employed in cold vintages and the first SO2 addition is made before fermentation and the second after the completion of malolactic and primary fermentation. A third addition may be made if needed prior to bottling.

Aging: 7-8 months in stainless steel before bottling. If it's a high acid vintage it will be aged for more time and less for those with lower acidity.

(Subjective and based on young wines)

General Impressions:

Mineral, Soft Angles, Energetic, Sweet Green and Yellow Citrus, Full-Bodied for Petit Chablis

Mineral Impressions:

Lightly SaltySaltyMetalMineralWet StoneFlintGraphiteReductivePetrol

Ageability:

Drink YoungShort-Term BenefitsLong-Term BenefitsUnknown

Technical Precision:

NatureModerateNurture

Intensity:

SubtleVigorousElectric

Core:

LitheMediumDense

Acidity:

LightMediumFullElectric

Texture:

LitheMediumDense

Body:

LightMediumFull

Tannin:

NoneLightMediumFull

Finish:

FrontMiddleBack

Wood Presence:

NoneSubtleNoticeable

The Vineyard

Soil:

Portlandian limestone—a hard stone with less active calcium than Kimmeridgian limestone of Chablis

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

Planted 1960s-Current (Ave 12yr--2019)

Altitude:

190-250

Aspect:

Multiple Aspects

Slope:

Flat to steep
(typical numbers; not vintage specific)

Enological Additions:

Sulfur Dioxide. It’s fined with bentonite (a natural clay) and filtered with diatomaceous earth (fossilized sedimentary algae with a silaceous skeleton)—both are natural products.

Total SO2:

None AddedVery LowLowMediumHigh

Alcohol:

12-12.6

pH:

3.00-3.10

Titratable Acidity:

N/A

Residual Sugar:

>1

Notes compiled in 2019 by Ted Vance (The Source) and Sebastien Christophe

About The Wine

This is a great blind taste where even seasoned veterans within the wine trade can easily miss. The aromas of sweet preserved lemon, wet stone, flint and sweet and dry herbs are a clear sign of the region and grape, but it’s the palate that can be deceiving. It’s fully endowed body and softer edges places on the right bank of the Serein River (which is where all Sebastien’s vines are located), carries power like a Premier Cru and can often be equal in body to some elegantly crafted Grand Cru Chablis; however, it’s not a true comparison in depth of complexity found in classified crus.

It comes from a collection of parcels located on the plateau of Portlandian limestone behind the Grand Cru slope and Premier Crus on the right bank and is not as mineral-sharp as Petit Chablis grown on the left bank on more pure stone soils. Many of the plots are new and some date back to the 1960s, giving an average of about 12 years of age (noted in 2019). The altitude ranges between 190-250 meters with multiple aspects, some flat and others steep.

This wine is naturally fermented in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation is completed in all of Christophe’s wines and bottling takes place after 7-8 months depending on the vintage—less time for lower acid vintages and more time for higher ones. It’s fined with bentonite (a natural clay) and filtered with diatomaceous earth (fossilized sedimentary algae with a silaceous skeleton).