Domaine Christophe et fils

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 work 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 cellar aging in neutral oak barrels, providing a little textural and structural contrast to the bristly energy of stainless steel.

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. -TV

Lay of the Land

Despite nearly unequivocally mentioned in the first breath by sommeliers as one of their favorite wine regions, Chablis often appears in books as the “I guess I should make a little room for Chablis in my Côte d’Or Burgundy bible” category. Indeed it’s not as sexy and elite as the Côte d’Or, but there is a lot to say that doesn’t get said enough. So, while we don’t intend to write an entire book out of this section on our website, perhaps we can bring some ideas not often discussed about Chablis, but relevant to better understand the subject—one that is not so expensive a lesson in understanding terroir compared to that Golden Slope, further south. (Maybe Chablis should consider changing its name to the Côte d’Argent, or maybe the Côte de Platine—a little silver or platinum could be a competitive contrast to the gold.

Chablis winters can be bitterly cold and dry. The lack of snowfall can be deceiving when you’re feeling the bite of the wind, and there are precious few easily found and inviting establishments to duck into and shake off the chill with a warming drink. Its semi-continental climate is similar to Champagne’s to the north, with the winds that whistle in from the North Sea. The frigid air that goes straight to the bone is caused by a relative lack of trees, which fully exposes to the elements, making one of the best refuges to warm up a 50-55°F cellar.

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Domaine Christophe et fils Chablis

Domaine Christophe et fils - 2018 Chablis, 375ml

Price: $25.00
Size: 750ml
Availability: 

24+ in stock

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

The Wine

Typically an extroverted wine, Sebastien’s Chablis impresses on the nose with classic chablisienne characters of freshly struck flint, wet stone and citrus. The palate is alive with textural grit and dimension and fresh acidity. The savory fruit impressions seem hardly touched by a drop of sunshine and this wine demonstrates how complex a Chablis village wine can be.

INFORMATION DISCLAIMER

Terroir: A good portion of this talented Chablis’ vineyards face the grand cru Blanchots and sit just west on the hill home to the great premier cru, Montée de Tonnerre. The soil here is unusually brittle Kimmeridgian marl—extremely friable, coarse and sharp compared to most in Chablis. A close look reveals almost pure decomposed fossilized miniature oyster shells, and not much else. The numerous plots for this wine come from various expositions all on the grand cru side of the Serein River. This seems to bring its multidimensional mineral-rich characteristics with more roundness and weight compared to those from other side of the river.

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:

Flinty, Smoky, Angular, Energetic, Citrus, Focused Aroma, Good Bitter Qualities

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:

Kimmeridgian limestone marl and marne (limestone rich clay)

Farming:

SustainableOrganic CertifiedBiodynamic CertifiedUncertified Naturalist

Irrigation:

ForbiddenNeverSometimes

Vine Age:

Planted in 1980-2000s (25 yr average)

Altitude (meters):

120-180

Aspect:

All directions

Slope:

Medium 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:

12-12.8

pH:

3.00-3.15

Titratable Acidity:

N/A

Residual Sugar:

Dry

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

About The Wine

Typically an extroverted wine, Sebastien’s Chablis impresses on the nose with classic chablisienne characters of freshly struck flint, wet stone and citrus. The palate is alive with textural grit and dimension and fresh acidity. The savory fruit impressions seem hardly touched by a drop of sunshine and this wine demonstrates how complex a Chablis village wine can be.